News / USA

White House, US Capitol Experience Security Scare

People run for cover as police converge to the site of a shooting October 3, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
People run for cover as police converge to the site of a shooting October 3, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Cindy Saine
In the midst of bitter budget debate over funding the federal government, Washington police officials say a car tried to ram a White House barricade and was chased by police cars toward the U.S. Capitol building. Reports say the female driver of the car injured a police officer in the crash and that police fired guns at her.

On day three of a government shutdown triggered by political deadlock, debate in the U..S. Capitol was temporarily shut down by a security scare.  The Capitol and all House and Senate office buildings went into lockdown after shots were fired outside the Capitol.  Democratic Congressman Gerald Connolly told VOA he was shaken up by the incident.

"Well I was actually on the balcony when the shots were fired.  So we heard them quite distinctly.  Initially we were thinking, it must be, someone was lighting off fireworks, not firecrackers, because it was too loud, but then it was quite clear they were gunshots," said Connolly.

Frank Schwing, a furloughed federal worker, watched the police stop the car. He spoke to VOA's Indonesian Service.

"They stopped the car, opened the door. They had their guns drawn and asked him to get out. Quickly he backed up, he smashed into one of the police cars and spun around and took off again. That's when there were probably a dozen shots  fired," said Schwing.

The investigation is ongoing, but reports say a woman in a car rammed a security gate at the White House, and then drove to the U.S. Capitol with police pursuing her.  She crashed into a Capitol Police car, injuring an officer.  It is not clear whether the woman fired shots, but police fired shots at her.  There are also reports she had a child in the car.  It is not clear why the woman rammed the White House and hit the police officer.

Capitol Hill Police Chief Kim Dine says the White House and the Capitol are secure.

"We have no information that this is related to terror or is anything other than an isolated incident," said Dine.

Some House members had to shelter in the House chamber during the incident. Congressman Connolly said members did not know exactly what was going on.

"You know, initially, it is so surreal. You think, it is gunfire on the Capitol grounds," he said. "You know my thought was, I was not afraid, but my thought was, I am looking at these tourists and citizens and I am thinking, 'I hope they are going to be safe.'"

Congressional staffers are used to security drills, but it was clear that this was perceived as a real threat.

The House, led by Republicans, has now resumed votes on individual measures to fund parts of the government. The Democratic-controlled Senate rejects those measures. The political battle has gone on for weeks and on Tuesday, much of the federal government shutdown or reduced operations because Congress has not passed a funding bill.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs