Police: Driver nearly runs over cops near Capitol; shots fired

Posted at 8:35 AM, Mar 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-29 13:42:53-04

WASHINGTON – A woman drove into a vehicle Wednesday morning and nearly ran over Capitol Police officers near the Capitol building, and shots were fired during the incident, authorities said.

The incident is being treated as a criminal matter and has no apparent connections to terrorism, Capitol Police said. There are no reported injuries.

The incident happened on Independence Avenue SW around 9:30 a.m. ET, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department said. Officers noticed an “erratic driver,” and when they attempted to stop her, she made a U-turn in an attempt to flee the scene, Capitol Police spokesman Eva Malecki said.

She “nearly struck” officers and hit one vehicle, causing police to briefly pursue her, Malecki said.

Malecki said “shots were fired” during the attempt to arrest the driver, though she did not provide further details, including who fired the shots. Malecki also did not provide a motive.

The driver was taken into custody.

MPD earlier said the driver attempted to run over officers and hit a Capitol Police cruiser, though Malecki did not confirm those details.

At the corner of Washington and Independence Avenues, where the pursuit ended, broken glass was visible on the street. The windshield of the suspect’s vehicle, which bore Maryland license plates, had several bullet holes in it. A black jacket, marked as evidence, laid on the street next to the car.

The Capitol complex remains open to the public, though parts of Independence Avenue remain closed, Malecki said.

Zachary Yanta, of Runge, Texas, was with his wife in a cab on Independence Avenue heading to a meeting at the Rayburn House Office Building when a car quickly sped past them. Police cars, both marked and unmarked, were in pursuit.

“All of a sudden, we heard one shot, and two shots right after that — just like boom, and then boom, boom — and the police were just swarming,” Yanta told CNN. He said he and his wife quickly got out of the cab and hid behind columns near the Rayburn building’s entrance.

Wednesday’s incident evoked memories of a 2013 car chase near the Capitol that ended with police fatally shooting the driver. Two officers were injured as well.