STAMFORD — Federal and local law enforcement officers who searched Miriam Carey’s apartment hours after the dental hygienist was shot and killed near the U.S. Capitol found no weapons or any evidence that she was angry with the government, sources have told the Courant.
A robot searching for bombs made a sweep through the unit Thursday night before FBI and Stamford police entered. Officers found a room with a baby’s crib and toys. There were baby bottles in the kitchen.
Carey, 34, was the woman behind the wheel of the black Infiniti coupe with Connecticut license plates that tried to pass a security checkpoint at the White House. Carey led police on a chase through central Washington and died after being shot near the Capitol. She had a 1-year-old child in the car with her, officials said. Video shows the car speeding away from police during a chase that went for about 1.5 miles.
Authorities Friday were trying to piece together the incident, looking for clues as to why Carey traveled to Washington and to determine her motive for attempting to get through the checkpoint.
The driver of the car was shot and killed, said Washington Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier. Shots were fired in at least two locations during the pursuit, and the child is in protective custody, she said.
“That’s impossible. She works, she holds a job,” said Amy Carey, who confirmed that her sister drove a black car. She said she knew of nothing that would bring her sister to Washington. “She wouldn’t be in D.C. She was just in Connecticut two days ago, I spoke to her. … I don’t know what’s happening. I can’t answer any more.”
In Stamford, police entered the Woodside Green Condominiums complex, where Carey lived, Thursday evening, and residents, who told to leave, said police told them the investigation was connected to the Capitol shooting. Residents said Hazardous-materials teams also were there.
The roads in the area re-opened by 7:30 a.m. Friday, and police had left the condo by 9:30 a.m.
Neighbors said they had seen Carey in passing. They said she was polite and smiled at them.
A next-door neighbor said she and Carey exchanged pleasantries. Carey was excited about her new baby, she said, and was never aggressive. She had seen her outside with the baby, picnicking, she said.
Another resident said he has seen Carey speeding through the parking lot.
Carey’s motive was not known late Thursday. Agents from FBI New Haven division were assisting with the investigation in Stamford, an FBI spokesman said.
Miriam Iris Carey was born in August 1979, most likely in New York state, where her Social Security number was assigned not long after.
She appeared to live most of her adult life in Brooklyn, N.Y., and became a registered dental hygienist in 2002 after receiving a bachelor’s degree in health sciences.
By 2009, she had moved to Stamford, living at Woodside Green, a sprawling complex of 212 one- and two-bedroom units by Rippowam River off busy Washington Boulevard and near Scalzi Park north of I-95. She paid $242,000 for her unit.
In September 2009, she became a licensed dental hygienist in Connecticut. By 2011, she had formed a home-based business, Experienced Dental Placements, which appeared to operate as a temporary employment firm.
She has no criminal record in Connecticut and no pending criminal actions. In 2012, the condominium association filed suit against her, but it was withdrawn less than two months later following “discussion of the parties on their own,” according to court records.
Several residents of Woodside Green said they did not know Carey personally, but recognized her, her baby and her car, a black Infiniti.
“I recognized the car, not the woman, the car,” said Wendy Frolick, 64, who lives in a nearby building. “Beautiful car. She always keeps it nice and shiny. And she always parked on the end, the very end,” she said, pointing to a parking lot near the building police were searching.
Carey’s behavior until Thursday, Frolick said, was “totally normal.”
When the FBI and Secret Service showed up late Thursday afternoon, some residents of the complex were asked to evacuate, including Angela Corrente, 37, who lived in the same building as Carey.
Corrente said she didn’t know Carey, but saw her frequently. They would let each other in and out of the building, she said. She recalled that the last time she saw Carey was about a week ago. “She had a baby,” Corrente said. “She’s pretty quiet. Pretty much kept to herself.”
Corrente said that when she arrived home from her job in Stamford authorities allowed her to take some belongings but told her to leave the building. “They said it could take a couple of hours or overnight,” she said.
Officials said the vehicle struck a security barrier at 15th and Pennsylvania Avenue, near the White House. Police chased the vehicle to 2nd Street and Constitution Avenue, near the Capitol, where Carey was killed.
“We heard the shots,” said Ben Marter, Murphy’s chief spokesman. “It happened right outside our office. We’re on the third floor of the Hart Building. We’re right around the corner from Constitution [Avenue], where the car ended up.”
Staff members jumped up and looked out the windows, where they could see Capitol Police.
“It was that close. We were right there,” Marter said. “It was hard to tell because there’s construction going on between Hart and the Supreme Court. We initially thought it was construction noise because it was boom! boom! boom! in rapid succession.”
Murphy was not in his office.
“The senator was just off the Senate floor in the cloakroom, right outside the Senate floor.” Marter said. “They told the members they were in lockdown, so he stayed in the Senate chamber.'”
After attending training drills, Murphy’s staff was prepared.
“The staff here all gathered together in the middle of the office,” Marter said. “There was an instantaneous alert system. All of our cellphones flashed an instant message. Everybody gets the same alert.”
At the time of the shooting, there were about nine staffers in Murphy’s office.
“We were going about our business,” Marter said. “The senator had been on the floor speaking … He was due to come back. He stayed in the Senate chamber.”
They received a “shelter in place order — close all the blinds, lock all the doors and gather in the innermost place in the office,” he said.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the Senate went into recess shortly after word of the shooting spread.
“I was on the floor of the Senate at the time, speaking with a number of my colleagues, when one of the senators rushed into the chamber and said there has been a shooting … a Capitol policeman has been injured.”
“We were barred from going back to our office,” he said. “Everyone in the office was told to stay away from the windows. … All the offices were locked down. No one could leave their individual offices.”
Blumenthal said that his staff members did not hear the gunshots.
“It seems to be a very isolated incident involving one person who seems to have been extremely troubled, acting in an extraordinarily bizarre, even deranged matter, raising the possibility of mental illness,” Blumenthal said.
“The lockdown is over and we are back to relative normalcy,” he said. “The folks in our office were pretty shaken. We have allowed our interns to go home. We’ve encouraged them to talk to friends or relatives.”
Rep. Joseph Courtney, D-2nd District, did not hear the shots because he was in his office on the other end of the Capitol complex.
“I was in the Rayburn Building on the other side of the campus,” Courtney said. “We had just had a delegation conference call on Sikorsky with the undersecretary of defense when the squawk box blared out the warning that there had been a shooting. We had people outside the office and they came scurrying in.”
He added: “This place is on edge right now. We had a shooting at the Navy Yard, which is really close to the Capitol. And tensions are high with the shutdown.”
Prompted by the partial shutdown of the federal government that was into its third day, fewer people are in the Capitol complex.
“In general, the population is lower,” Courtney said. “The House office buildings, the cafeterias, some of the offices with civilian federal employees are shuttered. The number of people is less than a regular business day, but the House is in session. It’s still crowded around here. Even though the tourists are being denied access to the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress, it’s still crowded.”
After the lockdown was lifted, the House went back into session as if nothing had happened outside.
By DAVE ALTIMARI, MATTHEW KAUFFMAN, JENNY WILSON And EDMUND H. MAHONY, Hartford Courant. Courant Reporters Daniela Altimari, Christopher Keating, Christine Dempsey and Kelly Glista contributed to this story.