WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — A woman described as “erratic and aggressive” drove a vehicle into a U.S. Capitol Police cruiser near the Capitol on Wednesday morning and was taken into custody, police said.
Shots were fired, but the incident appeared to be criminal in nature with “no nexus to terrorism,” said Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki. No one was injured. She said the U.S. Capitol remained open.
Malecki described the woman as an “erratic and aggressive driver.”
The incident occurred near the Botanic Gardens. A District of Columbia police spokeswoman, Margarita Mikhaylova, says it’s possible that an officer fired shots. The Capitol Police spokeswoman declined to elaborate.
Cellphone video shows police struggling to pull a suspect out of her car near the Capitol after failing to stop for police, then nearly running over several officers and hitting a squad car, CBS News’ Weijia Jiang reports.
D.C. fire department spokesman Doug Buchanan says ambulances were sent to the scene but did not take anyone to the hospital.
Earlier, a witness said a car was stopped at a checkpoint and police ordered a woman driving a vehicle to stop. According to officials, the driver made a U-turn on Independence Avenue, nearly striking officers, and crashing into at least one other vehicle.
“A brief pursuit followed until the vehicle was stopped at Washington and Independence Avenues, Southwest,” Makecki said. “During the attempt to arrest the suspect, shots were fired, however no individuals were injured during the arrest.”
Scott Ferson, president of Liberty Square Group, a Boston-based communications firm, said he suddenly saw a dozen Capitol Police cars moving quickly toward the Botanic Garden. Ferson said he heard what sounded like three gunshots.
“I heard pop, pop, pause, pop and I said “Oh, that was gunfire,”‘ he said in a phone interview. Police told everyone in the area to get off the street, but then things seemed to calm down and Ferson headed to his meeting.
The disruption happened near the end of the morning rush hour and prompted a large police response just as lines of people were waiting to get into a nearby congressional office building. Streets near the Capitol were closed, and the Sergeant at Arms advised lawmakers and staff to stay away from the area. The streets reopened nearly three hours later, and the Capitol remained open to the public.
Police have not released information about the suspect in custody. A federal law enforcement official told CBS News that they have the name of the driver and have run her name through the terrorism database. It did not come up.
Officers say the investigation is in its preliminary stages.
“Sounds like a very troubled individual,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday. “It’s reassuring to know so many brave men and women are willing to put their lives on the line to make sure the city stays safe.”
Almost exactly one year ago, U.S. Capitol Police shot a man after he pulled a weapon at a U.S. Capitol checkpoint as spring tourists thronged Washington. The suspect was previously known to police, who last October had arrested him for disrupting House of Representatives proceedings and yelling he was a “Prophet of God.”
And in 2013, Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist from Connecticut, was shot and killed by Capitol Police officers in her vehicle outside the Hart Senate Office Building. Officers had pursued Carey from the White House, where she made a U-turn at a security checkpoint. Her young daughter was inside the car at the time and was unharmed. Her family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Secret Service and Capitol Police.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)