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Shots fired near Capitol after 'erratic' driver nearly hits officers

Shots were fired near the Capitol on Wednesday when an "erratic and aggressive" driver nearly hit police officers, according to Capitol Police.

Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for Capitol Police, said that when officers tried to stop the suspect, she made a U-turn in an attempt to flee, striking a vehicle and nearly hitting officers who were on foot. The incident occurred at the 100 block of Independence Avenue SW, near the Botanic Garden.

The suspect, identified by police as Taleah Everett, 20, was apprehended at 3rd Street and Independence Avenue SW. She was charged with seven counts of assaulting a police officer and two counts of destruction of property, as well as charges for fleeing the scene and not having a valid permit. 

"Although preliminary, this incident appears to be criminal in nature with no nexus to terrorism," Malecki said in an email. "The Capitol Complex remains open to the public except for necessary traffic cuts on Independence Avenue, which will be opened shortly."

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Malecki said shots were fired as police tried to apprehend the woman, but no one was struck. Police were alerted to shots fired at 9:30 a.m.

Photos from the scene show police arresting a woman wearing a teal sweater.

"Everyone's okay, but someone tried to hit one of our guys with a car," one officer told The Hill, adding that there were five shots fired.

"There is ongoing Police activity at Washington and Independence Avenues SW," read a notice sent by Capitol Police to all congressional offices, warning staffers and lawmakers to stay away from the area.

"The U.S. Capitol Police and the House Sergeant at Arms are aware of and are monitoring the situation. Details will be provided as they become available and as the situation warrants."

Despite the alert that went out to lawmakers, the Capitol remained open throughout the morning.
 
The event brought back memories of similar incidents in recent years.
 
In 2013, in the midst of the government shutdown, Secret Service and Capitol Police officers shot and killed a 34-year-old Connecticut woman on the Capitol grounds after a brief car chase that began when she appeared to try to ram a set of barricades at the White House.
 
The woman’s infant child was in the backseat of her car during the chase and managed to avoid injury.
 
And in March of last year, police shot and wounded a man named Larry Russell Dawson after officers say he entered the Capitol Visitor Center and brandished what appeared to be a gun.
 
Dawson had also been arrested in 2015 for yelling “I am a prophet of God” in the House chamber.
 
Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) was in an Uber car at 1st Street and Independence Avenue SW on his way to the Department of Interior when he saw Wednesday’s incident play out.
 
Cramer told The Hill that he heard the shots fired. He also sent along video he took on his cellphone of the police response.
 
The video shows multiple police cars descending on the scene, and officers can be heard yelling, “Get down!”

Lawmakers praised the police officers for their handling of the situation.

In a joint statement, House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) and ranking member Robert Brady (D-Pa.) commended the Capitol Police officers.

“The U.S. Capitol Police Officers and the entire police force are to be commended for their brave and swift actions during today’s incident to secure the Capitol Complex and all of the occupants, including numerous visitors," they said.

"It cannot be repeated enough how grateful we all are for the risks these officers assume to protect each of us every day. We thank them for their constant vigilance, and our Committee will remain in constant contact to support the U.S. Capitol Police as they investigate today’s incident.”

Scott Wong and Ali Breland contributed to this report, which was updated at 6:10 p.m.