Capitol Hill was the site of a bizarre, deadly series of events this afternoon after a woman, identified by authorities to nearly every news outlet as 34-year-old Miriam Carey, drove with her one-year-old child in a black sedan through security barriers at the center of the city. The woman, apparently unarmed, was shot by U.S. Capitol Police after leading officers on a high-speed chase on Constitution Avenue in the center of D.C.
The Metropolitan Police did not formally release any information about the suspect, who is reportedly the owner of the car and therefore presumed to be its driver at the time of the incident. But with her name all over the news, and family members promising a statement later on Thursday, the media hunt to dig up as much as possible on the woman believed to be the only person killed during today's events has begun.
There's a gap here between what's actually known — authorities haven't officially released very much information at all on the incident — and what's being reported. We've rounded up the best of both below.
What We Know
Officially we know very little: Only an outline of the woman's movements before she was shot, and that she died from her injuries. According to the Metropolitan Police, authorities pursued a black Infiniti sedan with Connecticut plates after it tried to ram through a security perimeter near the White House. The vehicle fled, indirectly causing at least two vehicle crashes along the way, injuring two officers. A Secret Service vehicle was hit by the suspect, and a Capitol Police car was badly damaged when it hit a deployed security barrier. The woman's car crashed near the Capitol, at which point police officers fired upon the woman just outside of the Hart Senate Office Building. By the end of the chase, the driver was being pursued by a mix of D.C. cops, Secret Service, and Capitol Police. She was not armed, according to authorities, including the Capitol Police chief. The woman eventually died from her injuries. In addition, 1-year-old infant was taken from the vehicle after the shooting. The child is uninjured and in protective custody.
What the Reporting Says
Everything from the alleged Facebook profile to the home address of the alleged suspect in the D.C. car chase have been dug up while news outlets wait for the Metropolitan Police to confirm her identity. But a few reports have emerged, based on interviews and public records, that paint a plausible match between Miriam Carey and the events of today.
First, most news outlets, citing law enforcement officials, believe that the woman killed near the Capitol is Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old who lived in Stamford, Connecticut, at an address searched by police on Thursday. She worked as a dental hygienist, and has family in Brooklyn, NY. Carey owned the car involved in today's chase. According to The New York Times, authorities had some trouble getting a positive identification on the woman because "of the extent of her injuries."
Carey has four older sisters, one of whom is an NYPD officer. While there have been reports that the suspect had a history of mental illness, it's not clear what exactly that refers to. (UPDATE: CNN reported on Friday morning that a search of Carey's apartment found medications meant to treat schizophrenia and other disorders.) Her mother, for instance, told ABC News on Thursday night that Carey suffered from post-partum depression. A spokesperson for the family told reporters that he'd issue a statement on their behalf later Thursday.
According to one doctor who employed Carey, she had a temper in the office. But it's clear that no one close to her (at least, of those speaking to the press) saw this coming. Her friend Angela Windley, who notes that Carey had a 1-year-old daughter, told the Washington Post that her temper didn't really go "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.” Windley added that she “was not one to even talk about politics.” Carey, apparently, didn't have a ton of friends, as some found her “arrogant." Another friend of Carey's gave the following take on her to the Times:
Michael Brown, 33, a longtime friend, said he saw Ms. Carey on Tuesday evening — still in her work uniform — when she picked up her daughter from her mother, who had been baby-sitting. She said she was on her way back to Connecticut. Mr. Brown said Ms. Carey was known for stylish jeans, which she wore with combat boots. “She was a catch,” he said.
What We Don't Know
There are a few big questions not even touched on by early reports, even assuming that Carey is the woman who initiated the chase today. With Carey deceased, it may be a long time, if ever, before those questions are answered truthfully. We don't know Carey's motive, and early reports give few credible clues in that regard. We don't know why Carey took her 1-year-old and drove to D.C. on Thursday. And, we don't know for certain why the police shot her, if, as reports indicate, she was unarmed.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.