Nightly News   |  October 03, 2013

Tourists flee as gunshots ring out in DC

Washington, D.C., visitors were witness to the chaos that unfolded Thursday when police opened fire following a high-speed chase with a female motorist. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> nbc's kelly o'donnell who, as our capitol hill correspondent of course has been covering the government shutdown, found herself locked down with everybody else during the height of today's emergency. kelly , good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. the political drama was quickly, abruptly overtaken by this. the capitol dome is off to my left. i am on a balcony of a senate office building . below me is one of the street where is the chase took place. and the lights behind me, that will show you where the car is now in what officials are calling the second crime scene . this was scary for visitors and for lawmakers, staffers and media this was a workplace emergency. on a summer -- like october day, sudden fear. visitors be gan to flee.

>> i heard four or five gunshots. then this whole swarm of police cars , 20, maybe more.

>> as soon as you heard those it was -- on.

>> reporter: my colleague luke russert .

>> i'm looking out the window. tourists are being told to run away.

>> reporter: explaining what he saw as it happened.

>> i looked out the window. i saw 40 or 50 tourists hit the ground, all laying down.

>> police surrounded the vehicles, had their guns drawn, had the passenger door open telling the person to get out.

>> reporter: senators who rushed back inside.

>> there is an ambulance that's now responded.

>> reporter: were witnesses to the chaos.

>> we heard pops. three, four, five probably. i don't know if they were shots or not.

>> reporter: a frantic energy took over. an alarm sounded with these ominous words. "report of gunfire."

>> there is a report of gunfire on capitol hill .

>> these are live pictures. kelly , are you there?

>> i am, tamron. we are under lock down.

>> reporter: i snapped a photo of the warning as it flashed on the screens inside the capitol building . the spokesman says there are reports of injured u.s. capitol police officers. working to find out more for you. one officer was injured in a car crash in what police are calling the first crime scene . at the second location visitors saw a face-off.

>> they had the passenger door open. their gun was pointed directly in.

>> reporter: roughly 40 minutes later, for those of us working inside, the relief of an all-clear senate and house are both re-opened.

>> majority leader harry reid , himself a former capitol police officer, re open ed the senate floor with a message from that injured officer.

>> reporter: he's hurt. but he said -- i'm pa are a phrasing, but not much. he said, i work every day to make sure you are safe.

>> in the house, politics briefly on pause.

>> reporter: i join the majority leader in expressing our gratitude to the capitol police . [ applause ]

>> that was sustained applause certainly. i can tell you both the house and senate will get back to their normal business tomorrow. the investigation goes on. again, one u.s. capitol police officer, one secret service agent also were injured. what we can tell you is there is a return to normal, but, boy, has it been one heck of a day. brian?

>> reporter: kelly o'donnell on capitol hill for us tonight. kelly , thanks.