Driver Plows Into Capitol Police Cruiser; Streets Closed

Capitol, police, car
A Capitol Police officer takes a position near the Botanic Gardens on Wednesday, after a woman struck a Capitol Police cruiser with a vehicle near the Capitol. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

A woman described as an “erratic and aggressive driver” plowed a vehicle into a U.S. Capitol Police cruiser and was taken into custody Wednesday morning, a disruption that closed down streets near the Capitol for nearly three hours.

Shots were fired during the arrest attempt, but the event appeared to be criminal in nature with “no nexus to terrorism,” said Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki. No one was injured. She said the U.S. Capitol remained open.

Malecki described the woman as an “erratic and aggressive driver.” As police attempted to stop her, she made a U-turn and fled, nearly hitting officers and striking at least one other vehicle, Malecki said. A brief pursuit followed before the woman was stopped.

The chase took place near the U.S. Botanic Garden. Malecki said shots were fired “during the attempt to arrest the suspect,” but she declined to say how many shots were fired or to elaborate further.

The disruption happened near the end of the morning rush hour and prompted a large police response just as lines of people were waiting to get into a nearby congressional office building. Streets near the Capitol were closed, and the Sergeant at Arms advised lawmakers and staff to stay away from the area. The streets reopened nearly three hours later.

Capitol, police, car
Capitol Hill police stand guard at the Botanical Gardens on Wednesday, after a woman struck a  Capitol Police cruiser with a vehicle near the Capitol on Wednesday morning and was taken into custody. (AP Photo/Michael Biesecker)

Scott Ferson, president of Liberty Square Group, a Boston-based communications firm, said he suddenly saw a dozen Capitol Police cars moving quickly toward the Botanic Garden. Ferson said he heard what sounded like three gunshots.

“I heard pop, pop, pause, pop; and I said, ‘Oh, that was gunfire,'” he said in a phone interview. Police told everyone in the area to get off the street, but then things seemed to calm down and Ferson headed to his meeting.