US police launch inquiry after deadly car chase

Footage shows the car speeding away despite being surrounded by armed police, as Rajini Vaidyanathan reports

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An investigation is under way after a police chase through the heart of Washington DC ended with an unarmed woman shot dead and two officers hurt.

The woman identified as Miriam Carey of Stamford, Connecticut, had a one-year-old girl in the car. She was unharmed.

Authorities have searched a home in Stamford believed to be Ms Carey's.

On Thursday, police said she attempted to bypass a security gate at the White House, and officers opened fire as she sped off towards Capitol Hill.

'Mental illness'

Stamford Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau said Ms Carey had no criminal background

Ms Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist, was said to have suffered mental illness in recent months.

Law enforcement officials suggested the incident may have stemmed from a delusional obsession with US President Barack Obama and a belief he was stalking her, local media reported.

Chief Jonathan Fontneau of the Stamford police said that officers had been called to her home there "at least once" but that she had no criminal background.

Her mother, Idella Carey, told reporters on Friday her daughter suffered post-partum depression after the birth of her daughter last August.

"A few months later, she got sick. She was depressed... She was hospitalised," she said.

Stamford police said they were notified immediately following the incident on Thursday afternoon and searched the suspect's home for any related evidence.

"We did not deem there to be any danger," Mr Fontneau said after the search was completed.

Although the reason for Thursday's incident remains unclear, police said it was neither an act of terrorism nor an accident.

At 14:12 local time (18:12 GMT) on Thursday, a black Infiniti sedan rammed security fencing at the outer perimeter of the White House, police said.

Capitol lockdown

District of Columbia police chief Cathy Lanier: "Officers acted heroically"

Tourists, congressional staff and senators watched as a convoy of police vehicles chased the car down Constitution Avenue outside the Capitol, where the two houses of Congress meet.

Footage showed the car at one point surrounded by police but the driver managed to escape, speeding around a roundabout.

Images showed police pointing guns at the car before the driver rammed a Secret Service vehicle and carried on driving.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier told reporters that officers later shot and killed the woman on a nearby street.

Capitol Police briefly locked down the building where members of the House of Representatives and Senate were debating how to end the current government shutdown.

Police said the two injured officers were in good condition and expected to recover.

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