WASHINGTON - A woman was arrested Wednesday after police say she nearly hit a couple of police officers and struck a U.S. Capitol Police cruiser with her car near the U.S. Capitol complex.
U.S. Capitol Police said a dark-colored Chevrolet Cruze with a Maryland tag was traveling eastbound on Independence Avenue at around 9:22 a.m. when it was spotted driving erratically and aggressively towards the Capitol. As U.S. Capitol Police tried to instruct the driver to stop, they raised their vehicle barriers embedded in the road. But the female suspect then made an abrupt U-turn, nearly striking two officers and hitting at least one vehicle.
At that point in their attempt to arrest the suspect, shots were fired by officers, but no one was injured. Capitol Police would not say how many shots were fired or where they landed. The suspect was eventually stopped and apprehended by police after she ran into another vehicle barrier.
U.S. Capitol Police spokesperson Eva Malecki stated that the incident had no connection to terrorism, saying, "Although preliminary, this incident appears to be criminal in nature with no nexus to terrorism."
Police have identified the suspect as 20-year-old Taleah Everett of no fixed address. She has been charged with seven counts of assault on a police officer; two counts of destruction of property, fleeing, leaving after colliding and no valid permit.
According to online court records in Maryland, Everett was due in court Wednesday morning in a domestic-violence case at roughly the same time as the incident at the Capitol. She was the subject of a no-contact order, the records show.
"It looked like the police were trying to get her attention but she just was just trying to get away from them,” said Morgan Thompson.
"She obviously wasn’t listening,” said another male witness. “She didn't even look panicked because I got a good look at her face. She wasn't listening, bumped off another car, bumped off a police car and just took off.”
Outside the immediate perimeter of the scene Wednesday morning, FOX 5's Tom Fitzgerald reported things seemed very calm and tourists were still making their way around the Capitol grounds. Dozens of officers were at the scene. Ambulances responded but did not transport anyone from the area.
Once Everett was taken into custody, investigators descended on the car to gather up evidence. The car’s windshield had apparent bullet holes through it and the driver and passenger side windows appeared to be missing. There appeared to be four evidence markers on the ground next to the suspect’s vehicle, which was towed from Independence Avenue just after 12 p.m. The damaged police cruiser also had to be towed away from the scene.
Independence Avenue was closed for several hours between Washington Ave and 1st Street as a result of the investigation. The road was reopened around 12:30 p.m.
Almost exactly one year ago, a man was shot by U.S. Capitol Police after he produced a weapon at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.
The suspect in that incident, 66-year-old Larry Dawson of Tennessee, was entering a screening area at the Visitor Center on March 28 when he pointed a weapon at officers. He was shot by police and then taken into custody. The U.S. Capitol was placed on lockdown and a shelter-in-place was issued during last year's incident.
In 2013, Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist from Connecticut, was shot and killed by Capitol Police officers in her vehicle outside the Hart Senate Office Building. Officers had pursued Carey from the White House, where she made a U-turn at a security checkpoint. Her young daughter was inside the car at the time and was unharmed. Her family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Secret Service and Capitol Police.
Information from the Associated Press used in this report.