WASHINGTON: A chaotic scene unfolded near the US Capitol on Wednesday after police shot and killed an armed man in what authorities described as a routine rush hour traffic stop that turned deadly.
US Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Schneider said the unidentified 35-year-old man refused to stop at the checkpoint about two blocks north of the Capitol complex. The man drove the wrong way down a street and struck two officers with his car — one on foot and the other on a motorcycle, Schneider said. The two officers received minor injuries.
Police opened fire after the man brandished a handgun and refused to put it down, said Schneider, who described the melee as "very fast moving, very fluid."
"The officers felt they were being threatened — they were in fear for their lives," Schneider said.
She did not know if the man fired at police first. District of Columbia Fire Department spokesman Pete Piringer said the man was being taken to a hospital. It was not clear where he died.
The late afternoon scare occurred as lawmakers were wrapping up a third day of hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Police briefly sealed off part of the Capitol as a precaution, but the buildings were reopened about a half hour later. Authorities said the shooting was not related to the Capitol complex.
"We hear pop, pop, pop, like a gun," said Carol Lanigan, of Toledo, Ohio, describing how she saw a white car come flying down the street with two police cars behind chasing it.
She said she heard about four or five shots.
"There were so many gunshots being fired my family got down," said Robert Drumm, a tourist from Oklahoma who was visiting the nation's capital with his family.
Drumm said he saw someone being taken away in an ambulance. He said he first noticed trouble when he saw one car speeding and being chased by a police vehicle.
Numerous emergency vehicles converged quickly in the area.
Another witness, Dale Lanigan of Toledo, Ohio, described a similar scene, although he said two police cars gave chase.
As the car went past him, Lanigan said, "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.