TODAY   |  October 04, 2013

Police think woman in D.C. chase was mentally ill

Miriam Carey is the 34-year-old Connecticut woman who drove her car into a security barrier at the White House before being fatally shot by police and Secret Service. Authorities say she had a history of mental illness and thought she was being stalked by President Obama. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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>> and a lot of people asking why would the woman killed outside the capitol do what she did yesterday.

>> a lot of questions being asked. that's the top story this morning. the investigation into what caused a woman to ram a barrier and speed off toward the capitol before being killed by hundreds of bystanders and tourists and her little girl . pete williams is on capitol hill with new details on the investigation. pete, good morning to you.

>> savannah, good morning. police say the woman at the center of all of this was well-known with a history of mental issues. they discovered indications that she believed she was being stalked by president obama .

>> reporter: police and federal agents began their search for answers at the stamford, connecticut home of the woman driving the car. miriam carey. she drove into a security barrier at the white house and then took off after striking a secret service officer with her car.

>> there was a guy in front of her that did stop it and she hit him and he flew over the hood.

>> reporter: from there she sped up pennsylvania avenue toward the u.s. capitol about a mile and a half away doing 80 miles per hour at one point. police and secret service officers stopped her car at the foot of the capitol but she jammed it into revere and took off again as they opened fire. she again lead them on a chase around the perimeter of the grounds. police put the capitol on lock down and rushed to get visitors safely away as the chaos swirls around them.

>> i hear boom, boom, boom as the gunfire is unloaded.

>> reporter: a few minutes later carey crashed her car as they fired at her. a u.s. capitol police officer was hurt as he was speeding to confront her and hit a barrier in the street. afterward they discovered her very young daughter was in the car.

>> there was a 1-year-old child in the car. one of our officers initially rescued the child and took the child to medical care in the vicinity here.

>> reporter: police and members of congress defended the use of deadly force given she ignored repe repeated asking to stop. she had delusions.

>> there was some sort of mental health issue.

>> all of the police officers and secret service officers that responded were exempt from the government shutdown and required to be on duty, including the two that were injured but because of the shutdown, they're not being paid.

>> pete, before i let you go, do you know the whereabouts or the condition of the little girl that was in the car?

>> she was taken to, initially, some medical treatment center here and then to a local hospital and examined. they say she was not injured and now she is in social service protection and i assume at some point will go back to the family.