- Suspect identified as 34-year-old Miriam Carey who worked as a dental hygienist in Stamford, CT
- Mother says she suffered from post-partum depression after birth of her daughter, Erica, a year ago
- Grew up in Brooklyn and still has family there
- Former boss describes her as "non-political" person
- Sources tell NBC she may have thought President Obama was stalking her
- Police still unsure what led her to drive to Washington, D.C. and lead police on a wild chase through the city after she tried to access an outer White House barrier, eventually leading police to open fire and killing her
- Child who was in the car during the ordeal is safe
WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — Law enforcement authorities were investigating why a Connecticut woman tried to breach a barrier at the White House, setting off a high-speed car chase that put the Capitol on lockdown and ended with her being shot dead by police. That's as officials have identified the woman as 34-year-old Miriam Carey who her mother says suffered from post-partum depression, and who may have thought President Obama was stalking her.
(Source: Advanced Periodontics via Daily Mail)
The harrowing chase Thursday unfolded between two national landmarks, briefly shuttered the chambers where federal lawmakers were debating how to end a government shutdown and stirred fresh panic in a city where a gunman two weeks ago killed 12 people.
Police said there appeared to be no direct link to terrorism and there was no indication that the woman was even armed. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine, whose officers have been working without pay as a result of the shutdown, called it an "isolated, singular matter."
Still, tourists, congressional staff and even some senators watched anxiously as a caravan of law enforcement vehicles chased a black Infiniti with Connecticut license plates down Constitution Avenue outside the Capitol and as officers with high-powered firearms canvased the area. The House and Senate both abruptly suspended business, a lawmaker's speech cut off in mid-sentence, as the Capitol Police broadcast a message over its emergency radio system telling people to stay in place and move away from the windows.
The woman's car at one point had been surrounded by police cars and she managed to escape, careening around a traffic circle and past the north side of the Capitol.
Video shot by a TV camerman showed police pointing firearms at her car before she rammed a Secret Service vehicle and continued driving. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said police shot and killed her a block northeast of the historic building.
Two law enforcement officials identified the female driver as Carey, of Stamford, Conn. She was traveling with a 1-year-old girl who avoided serious injury and was in protective custody late Thursday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.
According to the New York Daily News, she grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and some of her family is still there.
Carey's mother, Idella Carey, told ABC News Thursday night that her daughter began suffering from post-partum depression after giving birth to her daughter, Erica, last August.
NBC News says law enforcement officials tell the outlet Carey may have thought President Obama was stalking her and had a history of mental health problems.
Erica, the daughter of Miriam Carey, is taken away by police. (Source: WABC screen shot)
"A few months later, she got sick," she said. "She was depressed. ... She was hospitalized."
Idella Carey said her daughter had "no history of violence" and she didn't know why she was in Washington on Thursday. She said she thought Carey was taking Erica to a doctor's appointment in Connecticut.
ABC News reported that Miriam Carey was a dental hygienist. Her boss, Dr. Steven Oken, described Carey as a "non-political" person who was "always happy."
"I would never in a million years believe that she would do something like this," he said. "It's the furthest thing from anything I would think she would do, especially with her child in the car. I am floored that it would be her."
Others echoed that sentiment.
“She was just a very sweet person, very determined and driven in order to get out of the neighborhood and do better for herself,” Angela Windley -- a former classmate and close friend -- told the Daily News. “She wasn’t violent or anything like that.”
Windley said she had ridden in the now-infamous car, and that Carey even hosted her baby shower.
However another former boss did say Carey had an accident where she fell down some stairs a couple years back that caused a "significant" head injury. While in the hospital for that, she discovered she was pregnant.
That boss, Dr. Brian Evans, told the Daily News that she also had a temper and once became angry when the company asked her to stop parking in a handicapped parking spot.
“She got very angry with that, so that started some friction. And then from there she was never insubordinate per se, or anything like that, but she tended to go against the grain a bit,” Evans said.
The FBI served a search warrant in connection with the investigation and police cordoned off a condominium building and the surrounding neighborhood in the shoreline city.
Condo resident Eric Bredow, a banker, said police told him the suspect in the car chase was one of his neighbors.
"I see the door to my building open and the FBI bomb squad in front of it," said Bredow, who said helicopters were flying overhead when he first went home
The chain-of-events began when the woman sped onto a driveway leading to the White House, over a set of barricades. When the driver couldn't get through a second barrier, she spun the car in the opposite direction, flipping a Secret Service officer over the hood of the car as she sped away, said B.J. Campbell, a tourist from Portland, Ore.
"This wasn't no accident. She was not a lost tourist," Campbell said later near the scene that had been blocked off with police tape.
Then the chase began.
"The car was trying to get away. But it was going over the median and over the curb," said Matthew Coursen, who was watching from a cab window when the Infiniti sped by him. "The car got boxed in and that's when I saw an officer of some kind draw his weapon and fire shots into the car."
One Secret Service member and a 23-year veteran of the Capitol Police were injured. Officials said they are in good condition and expected to recover.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who said he was briefed by the Homeland Security Department, said he did not think the woman was armed. "There was no return fire," he said.
A few senators between the Capitol and their office buildings said they heard the shots.
"We heard three, four, five pops," said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. Police ordered Casey and nearby tourists to crouch behind a car for protection, then hustled everyone into the Capitol.
Others witnessed the incident, too.
"There were multiple shots fired and the air was filled with gunpowder," said Berin Szoka, whose office at a technology think tank overlooks the shooting scene.
The shooting comes two weeks after a mentally disturbed employee terrorized the Navy Yard with a shotgun, leaving 13 people dead including the gunman.
Before the disruption, lawmakers had been trying to find common ground to end a government shutdown. The House had just finished approving legislation aimed at partly lifting the government shutdown by paying National Guard and Reserve members.
Capitol Police on the plaza around the Capitol said they were working without pay as the result of the shutdown. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said a bill to pay them was under consideration.
Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper, Laurie Kellman, Adam Goldman, Mark Sherman, Philip Elliott, Jesse Holland, David Espo, Alan Fram, Brett Zongker, Donna Cassata and Henry C. Jackson in Washington, Michael Melia in Hartford, Conn., and John Christoffersen in Stamford, Conn., contributed to this report.