Capitol Hill chaos: Shocked friends, family of alleged driver say she wasn't political

Those close to the woman at the heart of a car chase throughout D.C. say she had no reason to be in Washington

Published October 4, 2013 2:35AM (EDT)

Rescue personnel stand around a smashed U.S. Capitol Police car following a shooting near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 3, 2013.              (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
Rescue personnel stand around a smashed U.S. Capitol Police car following a shooting near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 3, 2013. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Friends and family of the woman suspected of driving the car which police chased through the streets of Washington -- from the White House to Capitol office buildings -- reacted with horror and confusion Thursday evening.

Law enforcement sources identified the woman to the Associated Press as Miriam Carey, 34, and a resident of Stamford, Conn. She died after being shot by authorities; a 1-year-old child, believed to be her daughter, was not hurt.

No motives seemed apparent as to why the dental hygienist would have done this.

A fascinating Washington Post profile found only shocked friends and a sister in disbelief:

“That’s impossible. She works, she holds a job,” said Amy Carey, who confirmed that her Stamford-based sister drove a black car. She said she knew of nothing that would bring her sister to Washington. “She wouldn’t be in D.C. She was just in Connecticut two days ago, I spoke to her. . . . I don’t know what’s happening. I can’t answer any more.”

Angela Windley, who attended community college with Carey in the Bronx in the mid-2000s, told the Washington Post that Carey was not political.

Windley said she knew of no connections to Washington that Carey might have had and had never heard Carey express any opinion on the government. “This is very shocking,” Windley said as she fought back tears during a telephone interview.

During her friendship with Carey, Windley said she had never witnessed Carey lashing out in anger “beyond, you know, normal girl stuff, like, ‘what is up with her’ about another girl, but nothing crazy. Some sharp words, that would be it.”

Carey also had not shown signs of mental illness during the time Windley knew her and “was not one to even talk about politics.”

Tourists, congressional staff and even some senators watched as a caravan of law enforcement vehicles chased a black Infiniti with Connecticut license plates down Constitution Avenue outside the Capitol. House and Senate lawmakers, inside debating how to end a government shutdown, briefly shuttered their chambers as Capitol Police shut down the building.

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. Lanier said police shot and killed her a block northeast of the historic building.

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.

"This appears to be an isolated, singular matter, with, at this point, no nexus to terrorism," said Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine.

An Associated Press story is included in this report.

By Salon Staff

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By Associated Press

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Capitol Shooting Miriam Carey