Female driver rams barricade outside the White House

A Woman driving a black Lexus tried to ram through a White House barricade then led police on a chase that ended in gunfire outside the Capitol.

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It started at 2:18pm (4:18am AEST) when the woman in a black Lexus tried ram a security barricade blocking the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House,

She did not get through and was chased at high speeds for about 12 blocks towards the Capitol.

The woman was driving erratically and using her car like a weapon when she hit a Capitol Police vehicle at Second St and Constitution Ave and then crashed into barricades a few blocks away.

Fox News reported that the woman was shot and killed. She is not believed to have been armed.

Tourist Edmund Ofori-Attah said he walked toward the scene, curious about what was going on.

“Then I heard the gunfire” and hit the ground, he said.

Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer said the woman driving the car had a child with her. Mr Ofori-Attah said the child appeared to be about 2 to 3 years old.

Mr Gainer said the child was taken to a hospital.

It is not believed to have been a terrorist attack.

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A police officer was injured in the traffic accident but Mr Gainer said the injuries were not life threatening.

“We heard three, four, five pops,” said Senator Bob Casey, who was walking from the Capitol to an office building across the street. Police ordered Senator Casey and nearby tourists to crouch behind a car for protection, then hustled everyone into the Capitol.

“There were multiple shots fired and the air was filled with gunpowder,” said Berin Szoka, whose office at a technology think tank overlooks the shooting scene.

There were fewer tourists and staffers around the area due to the government shutdown.

The shooting comes two weeks after a mentally disturbed employee terrorised the Navy Yard with a shotgun, leaving 13 people dead including the gunman.

Before the disruption, politicians had been trying to find common ground to end a government shutdown. The House had just finished approving legislation aimed at partly lifting the government shutdown by paying National Guard and Reserve members.

People standing outside the Supreme Court across the street from Congress were hurried into the court building by authorities.

The White House also was briefly locked down after the incident at Capitol Hill and the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the compound was closed to pedestrians. Secret Service said the procedures were precautionary.

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