Family identifies woman who died after Washington car chase

STAMFORD, Conn./WASHINGTON Fri Oct 4, 2013 4:15pm EDT

1 of 5. Authorities enter an apartment building in Stamford, Connecticut October 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/ Michelle McLoughlin

STAMFORD, Conn./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Family members have identified the body of a woman who died after a tense car chase through the streets of Washington that prompted a lockdown of the U.S. Capitol, their lawyer said Friday.

Miriam Carey's family members plan to discuss the incident later on Friday, when they return to their New York home, attorney Eric Sanders said in a posting on his law firm's Facebook page. They identified her body at the office of the medical examiner in Washington, Sanders said.

Carey, 34, had her one-year-old baby in the car with her on Thursday when she tried to drive through a barrier near the White House, then sped away toward Capitol Hill and led police on a high-speed chase that ended when her car got stuck on a median and police shot her.

Carey had suffered from depression, ABC News quoted her mother as saying, while a neighbor who lived in her Stamford, Connecticut, apartment building said she had been acting erratically.

"She had post-partum depression after having the baby," said Idella Carey, who identified herself as Miriam Carey's mother, ABC News reported on Friday. "A few months later, she got sick. She was depressed. ... She was hospitalized."

Investigators probing the incident are focusing on whether Carey had mental problems that triggered her actions, a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said on Friday.

Carey had no previous run-ins with the U.S. Secret Service, which is responsible for White House security, a law enforcement official said.

An officer at Washington's Metropolitan Police headquarters confirmed that Carey was the driver of the black Infiniti coupe involved in the incident, but declined to provide further details.

Carey's daughter had been unharmed when taken in by the District of Columbia Child and Family Services on Friday, said Mindy Good, a spokeswoman for the agency.

"She's fine," Good said of the child, who she declined to name. "Safe and fine, so far."

UNUSUAL BEHAVIOR

Outside a Stamford, Connecticut, building where Carey had lived, most neighbors said they knew little about the woman. But one man, a 59-year-old resident of the building who would only identify himself as "O.V.," said she had been behaving unusually recently.

"She seemed nice, but was very erratic lately, was acting very strange," he said. "She seemed like she was OK one minute, and then wasn't making any sense the next.

"She would often speed her car in and out of the parking lot here, and that was something that really concerned me," he said.

The incident, which came as Congress was debating how to resolve the current shutdown of the federal government, was initially reported as a shooting. But law enforcement sources said the woman did not shoot a gun and there was no indication she had one.

Law enforcement investigators had largely completed their search of Carey's Stamford apartment on Friday and reopened the building, which had been evacuated a day earlier, to residents.

Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia said the investigation had been handed over to the FBI.

Two officers were hurt in Thursday's incident. One was a Secret Service officer who was struck by the suspect's car outside the White House, Donovan said.

The other was a Capitol Police officer whose car struck a barricade during the mid-afternoon chase, which ranged over about a mile and a half and lasted just a few minutes, officials said.

Security was tight near the Capitol after Thursday's incident, just three weeks after a government contractor opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, about 1.5 miles from the Capitol, killing 12 people and wounding three others before he was shot dead by police.

In 1998, a gunman burst through a security checkpoint at the Capitol and killed two Capitol Police officers in an exchange of fire that sent tourists and other bystanders diving for cover. The suspect, Russell Eugene Weston Jr., was not charged with a crime because of apparent mental instability.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Ian Simpson in Washington and Edward Upright in New York; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Vicki Allen and David Gregorio)

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