Tom Cohen, WASHINGTON (CNN) — Police near the U.S. Capitol opened fire on Thursday on a car being chased by authorities, hitting a woman driving the vehicle that also contained a child, an intelligence source told CNN.
The child appeared to be uninjured, according to the source and witnesses.
Capitol Police said an officer was injured in a crash during the afternoon chase that began near the White House.
The chaotic scene, with gunfire erupting near the heart of the U.S. government, brought a swarm of emergency vehicles and caused Congress and surrounding offices to be temporarily locked down. Representatives and senators were in the buildings.
House and Senate sessions were immediately suspended. Police also closed Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.
CNN’s Athena Jones, who was at a Senate office building near the Capitol, said she heard gunshots that sounded like fireworks.
The chase began when the woman driving a black sedan got involved in some kind of verbal altercation with officers at a security checkpoint a block from the White House, the intelligence source said.
As police cars arrived at the scene, the vehicle sped away and led police on a wild chase that included running red lights, according to the source.
When the vehicle approached the area of the Capitol building more than a mile away, several squad cars stopped it and officer “came out with their guns drawn,” said Frank Schwing, a D.C. resident who witnessed what happened.
The armed officers tried to open the passenger side door, he said.
“At that point, the driver slammed into reverse, slammed into a cruiser, did a 180 (degree turn), took off, and at that point, there were a half dozen or so shots fired,” Schwing told CNN, apparently all by small arms from police.
The black vehicle then crashed into security barriers closer to the Capitol building, said police and witnesses.
In Congress, a Capitol Police bulletin said reports of gunshots required “all occupants in all House office buildings to shelter in place.”
“Close, lock and stay away from external doors and windows,” the bulletin said. Authorities later lifted the lockdown, with police saying they believed the incident was isolated with no connection to terrorism.
Two people, including a police officer, were transported to a local hospital.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the situation, which occurred on the third day of a government shutdown due to a stalemate in Congress over government funding.
“The timing on this was really kind of scary,” said Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas. “Capitol Hill police are at a lower personnel level because of the shutdown.”