The mother of a woman shot dead by police in Washington DC after a car chase that began when she tried to breach a barrier at the White House said her daughter suffered from post-natal depression.
The harrowing chase briefly closed the chambers where congress was debating how to end a government shutdown and stirred fresh panic in a city where a gunman two weeks ago killed 12 people.
Law enforcement officials identified the driver as 34-year-old Miriam Carey, of Stamford, Connecticut. She was travelling with a one-year-old girl who avoided serious injury and was taken into protective custody.
Carey’s mother, Idella Carey, said her daughter began suffering from post-natal depression after giving birth to her daughter, Erica, last August.
“A few months later, she got sick,” she said. “She was depressed. She was hospitalised.”
Idella Carey said her daughter had “no history of violence” and she didn’t know why she was in Washington on Thursday. She thought Carey was taking Erica to a doctor’s appointment.
Police said there appeared to be no direct link to terrorism and there was no indication the woman was even armed. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine, whose officers have been working without pay as a result of the shutdown, called it an “isolated, singular matter.”
Tourists, congressional staff and even some senators watched anxiously as a caravan of law enforcement vehicles chased a black Infiniti with Connecticut licence plates down Constitution Avenue outside the Capitol and as officers with high-powered firearms searched the area.
The House and Senate both abruptly suspended business, a politician’s speech cut off in mid-sentence, as the Capitol Police broadcast a message over its emergency radio system telling people to stay in place and move away from the windows.
The woman’s car at one point had been surrounded by police cars and she managed to escape, careening around a roundabout and past the north side of the Capitol building.