Bradshaw said no one was hurt and that the woman was taken into custody.
Officials identified the woman as Hannah Eileen Roemhild, 30, who had a Connecticut driver’s license and was staying at a local motel. Bradshaw said she is expected to be charged with assault on a federal officer, deadly assault on two sheriff’s deputies and “severe” traffic offenses.
The incident began just before 11:40 a.m., Bradshaw said, when a Florida Highway Patrol sergeant working a security job at a Palm Beach resort called the Breakers was told of a woman acting “irrationally,” dancing on top of her SUV. The Breakers is about three miles north of Mar-a-Lago.
The sergeant approached the woman, who got in her vehicle and then ignored him as he tried to get her attention, Bradshaw said. As it appeared the woman intended to put the SUV in drive, Bradshaw said, the sergeant smashed out her driver-side window and tried to grab the steering wheel.
He was unsuccessful, Bradshaw said, and the woman drove off. The sergeant, he said, got in his vehicle and gave chase.
The pursuit ended up on the road leading up to Mar-a-Lago, where the woman drove through two checkpoints on the way to the main entrance of the resort, authorities said. After she passed the second checkpoint, Bradshaw said, personnel with the Secret Service and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office opened fire — though no one was struck. The woman, he said, drove off, and police eventually lost sight of her vehicle after it crossed a bridge.
Brian Swain, the special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s Miami field office, said the area where the woman drove was a public roadway in Mar-a-Lago’s “outer perimeter,” not on Mar-a-Lago property. Bradshaw said the road “leads nowhere else but to Mar-a-Lago,” though he noted, “I’m not so sure she knew where she was going.”
“This is not a terrorist thing,” Bradshaw said. “This is somebody that obviously was impaired somehow and is driving very recklessly and endangering not only the public but the law enforcement officers that are there.”
Bradshaw said that there was “no way” she would have reached the main entrance of Mar-a-Lago and that she was not even “remotely close” to being able to get to what officials consider the “inner perimeter.” He said law enforcement, though, initially did not know whether her vehicle might contain explosives or whether she intended to run over pedestrians.
“We’re going to fire when our lives are in danger,” he said.
Trump was in Washington at the time of the incident but was expected to depart for Mar-a-Lago later in the afternoon. At the security checkpoints outside the club, Secret Service agents typically search cars, usually pulling up the hood and checking for bombs or other weapons and illicit materials with dogs. Several members say security has been ramped up in recent weeks. The club stays open for members even when Trump is there.
Maj. Robert Chandler of the Florida Highway Patrol said it was partly because f “public safety” that law enforcement lost sight of the woman after the shooting. She drove at speeds up to 70 mph, he said, and was at times on the wrong side of the road. Authorities said police finally caught up to her after her vehicle, which had been rented, triggered a law enforcement license plate reader near the airport.
A trooper spotted the vehicle and followed it to a motel, tackling the woman as she tried to flee to a room authorities later learned she had been renting, Bradshaw said.
The woman at some point picked up another woman — though officials believe that woman was not in the vehicle when it encountered law enforcement near Mar-a-Lago. She has not been charged with any crimes, and authorities did not identify her. Officials said initially that two people were taken into custody.
George Piro, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Miami field office, said the FBI was jointly investigating the matter with the Secret Service and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, with the bureau most focused on the “potential assault on federal officers.” He said it was possible the woman would be charged with federal crimes.
Officials said they were obtaining search warrants to examine the woman’s vehicle and motel room and would soon attempt to interview her.
In April, Secret Service agents at Mar-a-Lago arrested a Chinese woman, Yujing Zhang, after she bypassed security and got into the reception area. The woman, who was later convicted of lying to a federal agent and entering restricted space, was carrying a thumb drive, four phones, a laptop and a separate hard drive.
When authorities searched her hotel room later, they found nine thumb drives, five SIM cards for cellphones, about $8,000 in cash and a device used to detect hidden cameras. The devices raised concerns that Zhang might have Chinese intelligence ties, though authorities did not charge her with that.
Trump said after the incident that he was unconcerned about potential spy efforts directed at his club and praised the Secret Service and the receptionist who first noticed something was unusual about the woman’s presence. Another Chinese woman, Liu Jing, was arrested at Mar-a-Lago in December for allegedly trespassing.
Lori Rozsa in Palm Beach and Josh Dawsey in Washington contributed to this report.