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.
The pursuit began when a car tried to ram a security barricade blocking the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the case by name and insisted on anonymity.
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.
'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."
Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said the driver was in custody but he did not disclose her condition.
Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer said a woman was driving the car and had a child with her. Ofori-Attah said the child appeared to be about two to three years old.
Gainer said the child was taken to a hospital.
Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said the driver was in custody. He did not disclose her condition.
Officer's injuries not life-threatening
A police officer was injured in the traffic accident but Gainer said the injuries were not life-threatening.
"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.
U.S. Capitol Building shots fired aerial
An overhead view shows the scene of a temporary lockdown near the U.S. Capitol Building on Thursday. (Google/CBC)
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.
After more than 20 years of limited diplomatic relations, Canada and Somalia are hoping to trade embassies in the near future.
In a joint press conference with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird Tuesday, Somali Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Fawzia Yusuf Adam said Somalia will open an embassy in Ottawa “soon.”
“We are going to soon nominate our ambassador to Washington, who will be a resident ambassador for Canada,” said Adam. “Soon after that we will have an embassy and the Somali flag flying in Ottawa.”
While Baird said Canada would “love” to see embassies open in both countries, he did not clearly indicate when Canada would open a mission in Somalia. He said that “fiscal realities” and the security costs in the capital city of Mogadishu are obstacles holding Canada back.
“I think it would be certainly be a goal and objective of mine in the coming years to see the Canadian flag flying over Mogadishu. I think one of the ties that bind us are the 300,000 plus Canadians of Somali descent,” said Baird.
Last September, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected president of Somalia. According to the government of Canada’s website, the formation of the “new, more representative and accountable government is a critical step toward rebuilding Somalia” after more than 20 years of conflict.
“We want to be part of the new Somalia, in economic development, in job creation, in growth,” said Baird Tuesday.
Baird’s comments came five months after Canada announced it would re-establish diplomatic relations with Somalia. David Angell, Canadian high commissioner in Kenya, was accredited as ambassador to Somalia in May. Angell is also accredited in Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.
Until May, Canada had not had an ambassador accredited to Somalia since 1990, shortly before the government collapsed as a result of civil war in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Despite the recent enhancement of diplomatic relations, DFATD continues to advise Canadians against all travel in Somalia, as the government cannot provide consular assistance to Canadian citizens in distress there.
Tuesday’s meeting between Baird and Adam comes ten days after the al-Qaida-linked Somali terror group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a deadly assault at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
The four-day siege injured more than 175 people and left 68 dead, including two Canadians — North Vancouver businessman Naguib Damji, 59, and Annemarie Desloges, a 29-year-old diplomat who worked at the Canadian embassy in Nairobi. Desloges’ spouse, Robert Munk, was injured, along with Toronto-born teenage sisters Fardosa Abdi and Dheeman Abdi.
Following the attack, Baird offered Canada’s support in the “fight against al-Shabaab international terrorism” – a commitment he followed through with Tuesday. At the press conference, Baird announced that Canada will provide $6 million to help address security issues, conflict management and human rights in Somalia. Canada will also contribute $500,000 to prevent child and forced marriage in the east African country.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is shifting its drone operations from a US base in Djibouti to a more remote airfield after local officials voiced concern about possible collisions with commercial aircraft, officials said Wednesday.
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