A wild police chase through Washington, D.C., streets ended with a fatal shootout Wednesday just blocks from the U.S. Capitol as a man was shot and killed in a Mercedes Benz by Capitol Police.
The shootout happened at about 5:20 p.m. near New Jersey Avenue and C Street in NW, on the Senate side of the Capitol, a few blocks from where the third day of hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was wrapping up. Police briefly sealed off part of the Capitol as a precaution, but the complex was reopened shortly afterward.
Capitol Police said the incident started with officers trying to make a routine traffic stop in the 100 block of Massachusetts Avenue NE, but the driver of the Mercedes, Kellen Anthony White, 27, of Brandywine, Md., fled the scene. The chase continued to Columbus Circle, where police said he struck an officer, who received very minor injuries. The chase then went the wrong way down Louisiana Avenue, where another officer on a motorcycle received minor injuries.
The Mercedes eventually stopped at New Jersey Avenue, where police said White refused to put down a weapon and began shooting at several Capitol Police officers, forcing police to return fire, U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Schneider said in e-mailed news release. She described the melee as "very fast moving, very fluid."
"The officers felt they were threatened and feared for their lives," she said.
A handgun was recovered at the scene, police said.
A witness told an NBC producer on the scene that he saw a white Mercedes sedan speeding in the direction toward the Capitol with police cruisers in pursuit. The witness said after the car turned onto New Jersey Avenue there was a crash and then what sounded like about eight to 10 gunshots.
Another witness, Dale Lanigan of Toledo, Ohio, said as the car went past him, "the driver had one hand on the wheel and it looked like he was reaching for something."
Lanigan said he then heard shots and police ordered him to get away.