Dental hygienist suspected of being Capitol Hill driver shot dead by police

Dental hygienist suspected of crashing her car through barricades near White House, and who police shot dead, suffered post-natal depression

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 October, 2013, 3:15am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 October, 2013, 6:13am

Police are piecing together a picture of the woman believed to have crashed her car through barriers outside the White House and raced through the Capitol grounds with her toddler daughter as a passenger.

Law enforcement officials said the black Infiniti car was registered to a young mother named Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist from Stamford, Connecticut.

Video of Washington DC Capitol Hill police car chase

They believe it was Carey, with her one-year-old daughter sitting behind her, who flattened barricades - striking officers - and then led police on a high-speed pursuit along Constitution Avenue on Thursday.

The driver was shot and killed after crashing. There was no sign that she was armed, police said.

Video images showed a young child, her hair in braids, being carried by an officer to the back of a patrol car.

The immediate portrait of Carey that emerged in the hours after the shooting suggested a person unlikely to be found at the centre of such violence.

Carey, according to public documents, friends and family, had finished college and had established a career as a dental hygienist.

Her sister Amy, a Brooklyn nurse, was incredulous when contacted on Thursday and told what had happened outside the Capitol.

"That's impossible. She works. She holds a job," said Amy, who confirmed her Stamford-based sister drove a black car. She said she knew of nothing that would cause her sister to go to Washington. "She wouldn't be in DC. She was just in Connecticut two days ago. I spoke to her … I don't know what's happening."

Carey's mother Idella Carey told ABC News her daughter had "no history of violence" and that it was a mystery why she was in Washington.

"She had post-partum depression after having the baby" in August last year, she said.

"A few months later, she got sick. She was depressed ... She was hospitalised."

Quoting anonymous police sources, NBC News said Carey had "a history of mental issues" and that investigators had "discovered indications" that she believed she was being stalked by President Barack Obama.

On Facebook, there was an outpouring of anger directed at the police on a memorial page for Carey created by a friend in the wake of the incident.

"I hope her family sues the Capitol Police Department," wrote one woman. "Why couldn't they shoot the tyres of the vehicle? Deadly force with a child in the car? I just can't understand this."

Coming a little more than two weeks after the Washington Navy Yard shooting, the episode further unnerved a city on edge because of the federal government shutdown.

The Capitol was locked down for half an hour during the chase and shooting. Republican Juan Vargas was walking to the Capitol when he heard several loud bangs, which he initially thought might be a car backfiring.

"I heard 'pop, pop' and honestly, I didn't think anything of it," he said. Then he saw a police officer charging towards him.

"I was wondering what was going on. Why was this guy coming at me like a maniac?"

When the officer noticed that Vargas was wearing one of the red-and-gold pins issued to House members, he told the congressman to remove it because he could be a target.

People who knew Carey described her as friendly and dedicated. "She was really just a sweet and nurturing person," said Sara Vega, a former schoolmate of Carey's in Brooklyn, where Carey was born and raised.

Vega, who now lives in the state of Georgia, added that Carey "wanted a better life", but said she "was not one to even talk about politics".

Additional reporting by The New York Times, Agence France-Presse