A woman in a vehicle tried to ram a police cruiser on the U.S. Capitol grounds Wednesday morning and shots were fired during the incident, police said. They said no one was shot and a suspect is in custody.
The incident started at 9:30 a.m. when calls came in for shots fired outside the Rayburn office building. A U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman said the female driver tried to ram a U.S. Capitol Police cruiser and tried to run over several other officers. U.S. Capitol police officers pursued the person on foot.
By 9:45 a.m., the suspect was in police custody. The person was caught near the U.S. Botanic Garden, according to D.C. police.
Eva Malecki, the communications director for the U.S. Capitol Police, said at a press conference that the shots were fired in the process of an arrest. It was not clear who had fired the shots and Malecki did not specify.
“During the attempt to arrest the suspect shots were fired,” Malecki said. She said an investigation is underway.
“Although preliminary,” she said, the incident “appears to be criminal with no nexus to terrorism.” She said the U.S. Capitol remains open. She also said there is “no sense of motive.”
The incident started when authorities saw a vehicle driving erratically along Independence Avenue and they tried to stop it. The driver made a U turn and nearly struck some officers.
Zachary Yanta, the director of a branch of the Texas State Farm Bureau, and his wife were headed to a meeting with U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D – San Antonio) Wednesday morning when their cab stopped near the Rayburn complex.
“All of a sudden there was a vehicle that sped between our cab and the other two lanes of traffic,” Yanta said.
Yanta, 58, said the car was speeding and there were marked and unmarked police cars behind it.
“I asked our driver, ‘What’s going on?’ Yanta recalled. The cab driver said, “They’re running, they’re running.”
“It went by us so fast,” Yanta said. “Right after that we heard one shot, quickly followed by two rapid fires.”
Yanta said he and his wife got out of the cab and tried to get into the Rayburn building, but guards had closed the entrances.
“It was high anxiety,” said Yanta, who has a ranch in Runge, Texas, had come to discuss farming issues with Cuellar. “I didn’t get shaken up until I went into the building and realized what had transpired right in front of me.
“To be so close to something like that was very frazzling,” he said.
Wednesday’s shooting follows other security incidents at the landmarks in the nation’s capital.
In October 2013, a 34-year-old woman was fatally shot by police near the U.S. Capitol after a chase through the heart of the city. Miriam Carey, a dental hygienist from Stamford, Conn., struck a barrier at a White House security checkpoint and then sped away in her black Infiniti to the Capitol.
The chase ended with officers firing shots outside the Hart Senate Office Building. Carey was struck and police found a 1-year-old girl in her car. The girl was not injured.
There have been several other recent security incidents at the White House.
In one of the most recent, Marci Anderson Wahl of Everett, Wash., was arrested after three alleged attempts in a week to scale the White House fence.
Jayne Orenstein contributed to this report.