WASHINGTON -- The woman who rammed a White House barrier and led police and Secret Service agents on a dramatic high speed chase in the nation's capital Thursday has been identified as Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old mother and dental hygienist from Stamford, Conn.
Her motives, however, remain a mystery.
"It is a very sad story," said Jennifer Ganino, who lived in the same condominium complex as Carey. "I mean there's a woman who is no longer alive, [a] child was involved, so it's just really sad."
Many who knew Carey can't believe she could do such a thing. There were no signs she was a violent person.
"Smile on her face, she didn't seem like there was a problem or anything," Donald Knowles, a childhood friend, said.
But her mother told ABC News her daughter suffered from post-partum depression. A few months after giving birth, she became depressed again and was hospitalized.
A dentist who employed her for eight years said she'd taken a tumble down a flight of stairs that left her with a serious head wound. Another dentist who fired her a year ago told the New York Times she had a temper and had trouble getting along with co-workers.
Still, Thursday's chase through the nation's capital didn't have to end in her death. Police gave her several chances to surrender.
But when she tried to crash through a barricade near the White House, she hit a Secret Service officer, sending him flying over her car. In another encounter with several officers at the foot of Capitol Hill, she reversed hard and smashed into a police car.
By the time she hit the barricade on Capitol Hill, next to a Senate office building and just a few yards from the Supreme Court, police had reason to believe they were dealing with a violent woman out to cause harm.
They fired into Carey's vehicle, killing her. Her toddler, who was strapped into the backseat, survived all the mayhem.
"The child is approximately a year old and is in good condition and in protective custody," D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said.
Meanwhile, at Carey's condo in Stamford, police ordered her neighbors to evacuate their homes and dispatched a bomb-detection robot into her condo before entering themselves to look for clues.
"There were a bunch of police cars, the FBI, [the] bomb squad came in, just a bunch of big Suburban SUV type of cars, you know," Ganino recalled. "We saw the firemen come up and just basically everybody."
Police are still searching for a motive for why someone would drive hundreds of miles just to cause such havoc.