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Nation & World

Gunshots fired near U.S. Capitol; no link to terrorism

Capitol Hill police officers look at a car following a shooting on Capitol Hill in 
Washington, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Capitol Hill police officers look at a car following a shooting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON — A shooting near the U.S. Capitol on Thursday was an “isolated incident” and officials have “no information that this is related to terrorism,” Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine told reporters.

The incident appears to have begun when a car, driven by a woman who has not yet been identified, hit a security barricade on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House, Dine said. The post is the outer perimeter of the multiple security barriers that protect the White House complex.

The woman, who had a child in the car, then drove toward the Capitol with police in pursuit, Dine said.

She hit a Capitol Police car near the base of Capitol Hill, injuring an officer, drove on an additional two blocks and then was shot by police as she neared the Senate office buildings, according to law enforcement officials.

The suspect’s condition was unclear, with some law enforcement officials saying she had been killed but others saying she was in custody. The child does not appear to have been injured.

After the incident ended, police could be seen surrounding the vehicle on Constitution Avenue near the Capitol and the Supreme Court.

The injured police officer was brought on a gurney to a helicopter at the foot of Capitol Hill and transported to a nearby hospital.

“It sounded like fireworks, like a big fireworks display,” said Rep Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., who heard the shots from the balcony off the House chamber while talking to another congressman about the government shutdown. “But one had the feeling it could be gunshots.”

“We saw citizens fleeing this way and police going that way,” he said.

The shooting, which came just two weeks after a shooter killed a dozen people at the nearby Washington Navy Yard, led Capitol Police to order the U.S. Capitol locked down for about half an hour.

The House had just finishing voting for the day and lawmakers were clearing out. Lawmakers rushed back into the building and security hustled to secure the chambers.

Police also cleared people from Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, pushing tourists into Lafayette Park. The White House ordered people to remain inside.

People outside the Capitol could be seen running, as police cars with flashing red lights sped down Constitution Avenue. The House and Senate proceedings stopped, and Capitol police officers ran through the building directing staff to stay in their offices.

An email sent to staff by Capitol Police about 2:30 p.m. EDT advised: “Gunshots have been reported on Capitol Hill requiring all occupants in all House Office Buildings to shelter in place.”

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