Car Chase, Shooting at Capitol
Law students and interns safe; flaws in HoyAlert response
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2013 17:10
A female motorist was fatally shot Thursday afternoon by police when she attempted to pass a barricade on Capitol Hill, prompting a chaotic day of uncertainty and fear for the worst in Washington.
Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist from Connecticut, knocked down a security barrier at the entrance to the White House at 15th Street and E Street NW before accelerating down Pennsylvania Avenue with police in pursuit around 2:15 p.m.
After trying to ram the gate of the Hart Senate Office Building, located at Constitution Avenue and Second Street NE, she was shot and killed. Carey’s 1-year-old daughter was also in the car but emerged unharmed.
The story was initially reported as a shooting at the Capitol, although Carey was later found to be unarmed. Police had fired shots at her car as it sped away.
Due to the day’s events, the Georgetown University Law Center campus was placed on lockdown, along with the Capitol and several other buildings in the area. The shelter-in-place warning was announced through HoyAlert.
“As in any emergency that might affect our community, the Georgetown Law Department of Public Safety followed the events at the Capitol this afternoon closely,” Law Center Director of Media Relations Marisa Kashino wrote in an email. “Overall, operations were affected minimally, since thankfully, the situation was resolved quickly. As always, we will be reviewing our procedures and policies to look for ways to improve our capabilities to respond to future emergency situations.”
HoyAlert, the university’s go-to method of announcing emergency protocol, had some concerning hiccups during the crisis.
Jordan Grushkin (LAW ’15) was in class when he got his HoyAlert text around 3:03 p.m., nearly an hour after the chase began. By that time, the city lockdown had already been lifted. Twenty minutes later, Grushkin was told that the situation was clear and that he could resume normal activities.
“I was in class the entire time, so I was kind of already in a position where everything was secure,” Grushkin said. “Honestly, it wasn’t a big deal, procedurally, but then again, I was already kind of locked in, in class.”
Ashley Kempczynski (LAW ’15), who lives across the street from the Law Center campus and is signed up for HoyAlert through text, phone and email, did not receive any notifications.
“I didn’t even know it was happening,” Kempczynski said. “I started to go to class around 3:15 p.m., and I met up with a friend in the elevator, and she said, ‘Oh yeah, I hope it’s safe to go outside now,’ and I didn’t know what she was talking about.”
Kempczynski added that she finally received an email around 7 p.m., although the time stamp stated that it was sent at 3:30 p.m., at which point the city lockdown had already ended and the House of Representatives had reconvened.
Students at internships on or near the Hill were also affected. Nesh Patel (SFS ’16), who works as an intern near the Capitol, was at work when the incident happened.
“We were getting information before it even got on CNN, so I was going online and trying to see what the news said about it, but it said nothing when we knew about it,” Patel said. “Most of us were just calling our families and texting them, saying that there was a shooting and we were okay. [My supervisor] said we couldn’t leave the building.”
After School Kids Program’s Street Law program, usually held at the Law Center, was called off as a result of the shooting.
“The students were on their way to the courts, I believe, but they were all fine,” ASK mentor Alicia Wun (COL ’16) said. “They were most likely in transit when it was resolved. We usually pick them up from the courts [by Chinatown], not the Law Center, so they probably weren’t in as close a proximity as if they were at site.”
Grushkin said that such occurrences are not very uncommon, particularly in the Capitol South area.
“We’re not exactly in the safest area; we are right by the Capitol, but we are also right next door to one of the largest homeless shelters in the U.S.,” Grushkin said. “There has been more than one gun-related thing where someone had a gun drawn on them.”
“It was scary,” Patel said in agreement. “It’s weird that this kind of stuff has been happening in D.C. a lot now.”