Capitol Car Chase Suspect Believed to Be Delusional, Emotionally Disturbed

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Charles Dharapak / AP

Capitol Hill police officers walk near a car following a shooting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 3, 2013.

A woman was shot dead by police outside the U.S. Capitol Thursday after an erratic high-speed car chase between two of the nation’s most recognizable landmarks. The driver, identified as 34-year-old Miriam Carey from Stamford, Conn., was said to be delusional and believed the president was communicating with her, according to an anonymous federal law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation who spoke to the Associated Press.

Carey attempted to ram her black Infiniti into the White House before the crashing on a median near the Capitol, prompting police to open fire. A law enforcement source says she had been in a deteriorating mental state since December last year, the AP reports.

As investigators searched the car, they found an unexpected passenger: the driver’s one-year-old daughter. The young girl wasn’t seriously harmed in the crash and later taken into protective custody.

On CNN on Friday evening, Carey’s sisters questioned the police action that led to her death. “We will never know what Mariam was thinking in those last hours before she died, and we can only speculate,” said Valarie Carey. “Our real concern is why (this happened) and were things done properly? Was there some other way she could have been helped so that it didn’t end tragically?”

Carey worked as a dental hygienist in Hamden, Conn. until August 2012, according to NBC Connecticut. Her former boss, Dr. Barry Weiss, described her as “hot-tempered” but said “nothing in her behavior would have led us to think this would have happened.” Carey’s license to practice as a dental hygienist expired Thursday.

Dr. Brian Evans, who also oversaw Carey while she worked at the Hamden clinic, revealed she was hospitalized a few years ago. She “fell down some stairs and she had a pretty significant head injury,” Evans told the New York Daily News. As she recovered in the hospital, she discovered she was pregnant and “seemed happy,” he said.

Carey was ultimately fired from the practice in 2012, Dr. Weiss said, after “complaints about her from patients.”

Carey’s mother Idella told ABC News that Miriam was suffering from postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter a year and a half ago. “She was depressed,” Idella Carey said, adding that her daughter had “no history of violence.” According to a report from the Associated Press, Carey stopped paying association dues on her Stamford, Connecticut, condo in August 2010 and was sued by the condo association in November last year for $1,759 in unpaid fees plus collection costs. The lawsuit was settled in February.

Carey’s sisters said that she was being tapered her off her medications under the supervision of her doctor, and that she was feeling fine.

The chaotic incident began at the White House when Carey allegedly sped onto a driveway near the White House and attempted to pass a barricade. As police gave chase, the car sped about a mile down a main thoroughfare toward the U.S. Capitol building.

Video from TV network Alhurra, shot from the Capitol steps, showed Carey’s car ramming into a secret service car guarding the building. Gunshots were heard as the car appeared to back up, turn around, and speed off, as police again gave chase. The car got stuck in the median moments later outside the Hart Senate Office Building, when police could be heard firing again. Washington D.C. was brought to a standstill as fear and uncertainty gripped the city still reeling from last month’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.

Capitol Police chief Kim Dine called the incident an “isolated, singular matter” with no connection to terrorism. Police found no weapons in the car. A Secret Service member and a Capitol Police veteran were both injured in the incident but were expected to recover.

In the immediate fallout, as investigators worked to secure the area, Capitol Police gave orders to all employees at the U.S. Capitol to “shelter in place.” The legislative hub was put on lockdown for about 30 minutes.