WASHINGTON, D.C. - Thursday afternoon, while tourists walked around Capitol HIll and wondered when the White House and other attractions might open again, a scene unfolded that no one expected.
"We were standing there like typical goggle-eyed tourists with our mouths open and cameras hanging around our necks not doing anything," said Bruce Campbell of Portland, Ore. He and his wife, Susan, had just arrived in Washington, D.C., for a vacation they had planned a year ago. "When it was over, I grabbed my camera and tried to get a picture of the license plate, but it didn't turn on fast enough."
Minutes before, the Campbells watched as a woman driving a car with a young child inside tried to ram her way through a White House barricade.
"We were standing behind a guard shack where you go up behind the White House," Bruce said. "I asked a guard, one of the secret service guys, a question. He was just turning to answer me when this little black sports coupe, I think it was an Infiniti, came barreling through the gate and the driveway."
Bruce said one of the secret service guys "tore off after her on foot," slammed on the car's fender and yelled at her to stop. She didn't.
"She was moving pretty fast," said Bruce. "He was still chasing after her and yelling. There were several guards at the entrance and they ran to stand and try to block her."
That didn't work either.
"She wasn't stopping," said Bruce. "They jumped out of the way. One of the guys grabbed one of those metal fence barricades they put up all over. He pushed that across the entrance."
Bruce said the woman slowed down a bit and tried to get around the blockage, but then slammed on the gas and rammed her way through.
Bruce and Susan Campbell in a photo from their Facebook page.
"She knocked him up on her hood and was heading out the driveway," Bruce said. "He rolled off onto the street. He wasn't run over. He was shaken up, but seemed to be OK."
"I was thinking 'lady, what are you doing? Don't do that," said Susan. "It happened so fast. My thoughts were not that she was doing anything bad. I just thought she made a mistake. She was coming in and was going to say 'sorry, I'm a stupid driver' or something."
Susan quickly realized, though, that something altogether different was going on.
"When she slammed that guy, hit that fence and sent that guy flying through the air, at that point you realized this is serious stuff," she said.
This view from the Russell Senate Office Building shows police converging on the scene of a shooting on Constitution Avenue on Capitol Hill near the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
A fleet of police and Secret Service cars chased the Infiniti toward Capitol Hill.
"The car was trying to get away," said Matthew Coursen, who was on his way to a legislative office building when the car sped by him. "The car got boxed in and that's when I saw an officer of some kind draw his weapon and fire shots into the car."
Police would later confirm that the woman in the car was dead. The child, a one-year-old girl, was unharmed. A police officer involved in a crash during the incident suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Before the disruption, lawmakers 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.
U.S. Capitol Police on the plaza around the Capitol said they were working without pay as the result of the shutdown.