Police who responded to gunshots fired outside the capitol building on Thursday are currently working unpaid. When an unidentified woman tried to ram a White House gate, then backed into a police cruiser before leading police and secret service agents in a car chase, Washington DC first responders did what they always do—they ran into danger. They dragged people into buildings and moved civilians into safety, taking action to save lives. And our shut down government isn’t paying them.
This incident comes while the federal government, which pays the capitol police, has already been shut down by Congressional stonewalling for two days. As essential employees, capitol police are exempt from furloughs, but they are not paid during the shutdown. Assuming the government eventually resumes functioning, they will receive paychecks, but until that time, these brave men and woman are running into danger based on IOUs. Now, the suspect is in dead, and at least one officer has been injured. And the capitol police did it all for free.
See live video coverage of the ongoing capitol shooting story here on the Guardian at this link.
Early reports indicated the woman was armed, and that police and secret service personnel were shot, but these reports turned out to be false. The unarmed woman was shot and killed after the use of deadly force was authorized due to the unknown nature of a threat to the White House and Capitol.
Frighteningly, the woman had her small child in the vehicle as a passenger, but the toddler was quickly recovered by the unpaid capitol police who responded to the call.
After the woman’s failed attempt to breach the White House, secret service agents drew their weapons, and the woman to back away. After slamming into a police vehicle, the woman kept driving, disregarding traffic lights. She did not obey police instructions or slow her vehicle at that point. Pursued by the secret service, the woman drove towards the Capitol Building, and the chase ended, along with the woman’s life, between the Capitol Building and a Senate office building, the Hart Senate Building.
MSNBC’s Luke Russert, who was on the scene, reported hearing three distinct booms from just outside the Capitol Building shortly after 2pm.
When the shots were fired, there were senators out on the street nearby. People walking out of the nearby Supreme Court building were ushered back in. Others, like Senator Bob Casey, were unable to get indoors and were told to crouch behind cars.
The woman has been identified as Stamford, CT resident Miriam Carey, 34. It is believed she was on schizophrenia medication and suffering from post-partum depression. Contrary to normal journalistic ethical norms, initial coverage showed the child’s face on television.
If this doesn’t shame members of Congress into ending this unnecessary shutdown , it is hard to imagine what will. These men and women work hard and have families. Police in the capitol shouldn’t have to rush into danger while working unpaid.
Written by: Jeremy Forbing