Rescue personnel stand around a smashed U.S. Capitol Police car following a shooting near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Oct. 3, 2013. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
A woman driving a black Infiniti with a young child inside tried to ram through a White House barricade, then led police on a chase that ended in gunfire outside the Capitol, witnesses and officials say.
Tourists watched the shooting unfold on Constitution Avenue outside the Capitol as lawmakers inside debated how to end a government shutdown. Police quickly locked down the entire complex for about an hour, and both houses of Congress went into recess.
- Watch a live shot of the scene above
- Photos from U.S. Capitol shooting
The pursuit began when a car with Connecticut plates sped onto the driveway leading to the White House, over a set of lowered barricades. When she couldn't get through a second barrier, she spun the car in the opposite direction, flipping a Secret Service officer over the hood of the car as she sped away, said B.J. Campbell, a visiting tourist.
A fleet of police and Secret Service cars chased the Infiniti toward Capitol Hill.
"The car was trying to get away. But it was going over the median and over the curb," said Matthew Coursen, who was on his way to a legislative office building when the Infiniti sped by him. "The car got boxed in and that's when I saw an officer of some kind draw his weapon and fire shots into the car."
Witnesses said at least 20 police cars chased the car toward Capitol Hill, where the car crashed outside the Capitol.
Tourist Edmund Ofori-Attah said he walked toward the scene, curious about what was going on.
"Then I heard the gunfire" and hit the ground, he said.
Patty Bills, who works at Faith and Action, a Christian outreach group near the shooting scene, said she saw officers firing at the driver. It was not immediately clear whether the driver was armed.
The Senate's top security officer Terrance Gainer said a child was taken from the car to a hospital but said he knew of no harm to the youngster.
Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said the driver was in custody but he did not disclose her condition. Officials are scheduled to hold a news conference at 6 p.m.
'We were really scared'
Giancarlo Refalo, a tourist from Malta, said he heard two or three gunshots, and revving engines.
“We saw this black car being chased by three or four police cars.… We ran for cover and as we were hiding behind some bushes we heard this big bang. I guess it must have been a tire blowing out or a crash, and suddenly police cars and emergency vehicles appeared from everywhere," Refalo said.
"We were really scared. I've never heard shots before in my life."
"We heard three, four, five pops," said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who was walking from the Capitol to an office building across the street. Police ordered Casey and nearby tourists to crouch behind a car for protection, then hustled everyone into the Capitol.
"There were multiple shots fired and the air was filled with gunpowder," said Berin Szoka, whose office at a technology think tank overlooks the shooting scene.
The shooting comes two weeks after a mentally disturbed employee terrorized the Navy Yard with a shotgun, leaving 13 people dead including the gunman.
Before the disruption, lawmakers had been trying to find common ground to end a government shutdown. The House had just finished approving legislation aimed at partly lifting the government shutdown by paying National Guard and Reserve members.
People standing outside the Supreme Court across the street from Congress were hurried into the court building by authorities.
The White House also was briefly locked down after the incident at Capitol Hill and the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the compound was closed to pedestrians. Secret Service said the procedures were precautionary.
Peter Polcki, a furloughed federal government worker, was wandering around near the Supreme Court when he said he heard the “pop, pop, pop of gunshots.”
Polcki believes four or five shots rang out. He described seeing a dark two-door car, but he could not see who was inside.
"It's like the Navy Yard all over again," he said.
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