A woman was shot dead near the Capitol, home to US congress, on Thursday after a high-speed car chase starting at the White House, said law enforcement agencies.
The woman, who was unarmed, drove her car into a checkpoint at the White House. And tried to drive over the barricade, before taking off with police squad cars in pursuit.
The police had not identified the woman till late in the night but US media reports said she was Miriam Carey, 34, from Connecticut. Nothing is known of her motive.
The police found the woman’s one-year-old daughter in the car. Initial reports had suggested she was injured. The police clarified later she was in good condition.
President Barack Obama, who had returned to the White House from a public event in a nearby suburban town just two hours before, was briefed about the chase and shooting.
And security around the White House was beefed up and the Capitol was put under lockdown -- “for stay where you are and lock the door”, including the House of Representative.
The House was then debating minor legislations related to the ongoing shutdown. It adjourned promptly. The Senate, on the other hand, went on for 15 minutes longer.
The lockdown was lifted in 30 minutes.
The woman, at the center of Capitol Chaos as the incident came to be branded in local media, was dead by then. And two police officers were in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The city has been on the edge since the mass shooting last month at a US navy base in which 12 people, including an Indian American man, were killed.
“This was not in any way an accident,” said DC Metro police chief Cathy Lanier, at a news conference, addressing a top-of-the-mind concern for a lot of people.
Law enforcement officials also ruled out terrorism.
Witnesses described the woman starting off by trying to barrel through the check point at the White House, ignoring admonishments from law enforcement officials.
She almost drove over one of them, said witnesses.
And then she sped off, in full view of tourists and a TV camera, which recorded her surrounded by security officials and reversing and speeding off. It was on every news channel.