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Man Shot Dead Near Capitol After He Fled a Routine Traffic Stop

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By Clarence Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 16, 2009

U.S. Capitol Police fatally shot a man about a block from the Capitol late yesterday after he fled a routine traffic stop, "nearly ran over two officers" and shot at several officers, police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider said.

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Two Capitol Police officers received minor injuries and were treated at the scene.

Schneider said the attempted traffic stop occurred about 5:15 p.m. in the 100 block of Massachusetts Avenue NW. A white Mercedes-Benz fled "at a high rate of speed, driving erratically and dangerously," and struck an officer on foot outside Union Station, Schneider said.

Officers chased the car to New Jersey Avenue NW, where it struck a parked vehicle and then crashed into a police cruiser before coming to a stop. A motorcycle officer was injured; it was not immediately clear what happened.

Officers saw that the man had a weapon and ordered him to drop it and show his hands, Schneider said. The man began shooting, and at least two officers "fired and struck the suspect," she said.

"Our officers fired because they believed their lives were in danger," Schneider said.

A gun was recovered at the scene, Schneider said. The man was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where he was declared dead.

The incident happened as the Senate was conducting confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court. There was no indication that the shooting was related to the hearings or any government business. Schneider said the Capitol was safe throughout the incident.

In an e-mail to Senate staff members, Terrance W. Gainer, the Senate sergeant at arms, said that after the man crashed into a Capitol Police car, "the offender crawled out of the driver's side window" while shooting at officers. He cautioned that his message was based on "very preliminary information."

Robert Drumm, a food-service manager from Oklahoma who was visiting Washington with his wife and four children, said he saw the Mercedes crash after taking a corner at high speed with two police cars following close behind.

Drumm said he heard a couple of gunshots, followed by a pause, then "a bunch more" shots. He estimated that "at least 10 to 15 shots" were fired.

Police blocked off streets around the Capitol after the shooting as numerous emergency vehicles converged on the area.

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