US police have shot a female motorist dead after she led them on a high-speed chase from near the White House through the streets of downtown Washington to the Capitol building.
Lawmakers and tourists scattered and ducked for cover on Thursday as shots rang out during a police operation to halt the woman, who was driving with a one-year-old girl in her black sports car.
Washington police chief Cathy Lanier told reporters the suspect had been pronounced dead, but refused to discuss the driver’s possible motive while the investigation was ongoing.
“The child is approximately a year old, and is in good condition, and in protective custody,” Lanier said, adding that officers had fired shots at two locations as they tried to halt the vehicle.
“At the White House and at the Capitol, the security perimeter worked,” she said, adding that a Capitol Police officer and a Secret Service agent had been injured.
“They did exactly what they were supposed to do. They stopped a suspect from breaching the security perimeter in a vehicle at both locations.”
Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary later said the motorist was a “black adult female” but that her identity was being withheld until her next of kin could be notified. He also said the young girl was unharmed.
Officials said the chase began at the outer perimeter of the White House security cordon, where the suspect’s car struck a barrier and a uniformed Secret Service officer.
No shots were fired at the White House, but agents gave chase. As the car closed in on the Capitol, the seat of Congress, it was cornered by police vehicles and armed officers on foot.
Footage aired by broadcasters showed the woman’s car executing a tight U-turn as shots rang out, and then speeding off. Shortly afterwards it hit another barrier and more shots were fired.
Lanier, while refusing to speculate on the cause of the incident, said it “does not appear in any way to be an accident. This was a lengthy pursuit.”
The US government was partially shut down this week when politicians failed to agree on a budget.
Politicians in the House of Representatives and Senate were in session, trying to find a solution to the budget impasse when the incident happened.
It was the second major security breach in the US capital in less than three weeks. On September 16, a deranged gunman stormed the nearby Navy Yard and killed 12 people.
Thursday’s scare also came three days into a US government shutdown, which has raised political tensions and caused hundreds of thousands of workers to be sent home without pay.