Woman shot dead after Capitol Hill chase 'quiet, kept to herself'
WASHINGTON— A Connecticut dental hygienist with a history of mental health issues was killed by police after a chase and shooting near the U.S. Capitol Thursday afternoon, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.
The source said Miriam Carey, 34, was the woman behind the wheel of the black Infiniti coupe with Connecticut license plates that tried to pass a security checkpoint at the White House.
Carey led police on a chase through central Washington and died after being shot near the Capitol. She had a 1-year-old child in the car with her, officials said. Video shows the car speeding away from police during a chase that went for about 1.5 miles.
Carey's motive was not known late Thursday. Agents from FBI were assisting with the investigation, an FBI spokesman said. It appeared there was no connection to terrorism, Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said of the incident.
The Capitol was locked down for about an hour during the incident.
Carey's sister, Amy Carey, a nurse in Brooklyn, N.Y., was incredulous when she was reached Thursday afternoon by the Washington Post and told what had happened outside the Capitol.
"That's impossible. She works, she holds a job," said Amy Carey, who confirmed that her sister drove a black car. She said she knew of nothing that would bring her sister to Washington. "She wouldn't be in D.C. She was just in Connecticut two days ago, I spoke to her. ... I don't know what's happening. I can't answer any more."
When the FBI and Secret Service showed up late Thursday afternoon, some residents of the Stamford, Conn., condominium complex where she lived were asked to evacuate, including Angela Corrente, 37, who lived in the same building as Carey.
Corrente said she didn't know Carey, but saw her frequently. They would let each other in and out of the building, she said. She recalled that the last time she saw Carey was about a week ago.
"She had a baby," Corrente said, told the Hartford Courant. "She's pretty quiet. Pretty much kept to herself."
She has no criminal record in Connecticut and no pending criminal actions. In 2012, the condominium association filed suit against her, but it was withdrawn less than two months later following "discussion of the parties on their own," according to court records obtained by the Courant.
Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, told CNN that officials believed the woman driving the car may have had mental health problems.
"I got that from multiple sources -- that they think she may have had some mental health issues," he said. "Obviously the way she responded at the gate near the White House and then turning around and hitting Secret Service."
The incident began about 2:12 p.m. Thursday at the White House, where President Obama was working inside. Police said the driver of the car tried to breach the barricades at an outer checkpoint on the mansion's northeastern side. The sedan with Connecticut license plates struck a Secret Service agent as it sped away, police said.
"The suspect in the vehicle was struck by gunfire," Washington's police chief, Cathy Lanier, told reporters.
The woman rammed security barricades "at the very outer perimeter of the White House," U.S. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said. Then the car, carrying a 1-year-old girl, raced up Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol where Congress was in session.
Police chased and fired at the car. It came to a halt near the Capitol building, said Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine.
Two officers were hurt in Thursday's incident. One was a Secret Service officer who was struck by the suspect's car outside the White House, Donovan said.
The other was a Capitol Police officer whose car struck a barricade during the mid-afternoon chase. It ranged over about a mile and a half and lasted just a few minutes, officials said.
All the shooting appears to have been done by police. Law enforcement sources said the suspect did not shoot a gun and there is no indication she had one.
SHUTDOWN TALKS BEFORE LOCKDOWN
Just before the Capitol lockdown, Senator John McCain of Arizona was on the Senate floor urging that President Obama and a bipartisan group of senators launch negotiations to break the deadlock over government funding and a debt limit increase.
The House had just passed a bill to fund the National Guard and reservists who are not on active duty during the shutdown.
The Capitol police, who were deemed "essential" staff, were at work despite the government shutdown, but they are not being paid.
"What really comes home to me is that these are all people who are working without pay right now," Representative Matt Cartwright, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, said on CNN. He was outside on a Capitol balcony when he said he heard seven or eight shots "all in less than a second."
Obama was briefed on the incident, a White House official said, providing no further details.
Security is tight near the Capitol, but there have been previous shootings in the area. In 1998, a gunman burst through a security checkpoint at the Capitol and killed two Capitol Police officers in an exchange of fire that sent tourists and other bystanders diving for cover. The suspect, Russell Eugene Weston Jr., was not charged with a crime because of apparent mental instability.
Divers resume search after Sicily migrant boat disaster
(Reuters) - Italian divers searched on Friday for bodies trapped in the wreck of a boat packed with African migrants which sank off Sicily, killing an estimated 300 people in one of the worst disasters in Europe's decades-long immigration crisis.
Rescue teams have so far recovered 111 bodies and expect to find more than a hundred others in the submerged wreck, which is sunk in around 40 meters of water less than 1 km (0.6 miles) from the shore of the southern island of Lampedusa.
After 155 survivors were pulled from the water on Thursday, choppy seas were expected to make the recovery work more difficult and there was no realistic hope of finding any more of the estimated 500 passengers on board the vessel still alive.
"Two motorboats remained in the area overnight and this morning divers resumed work but we expect to recover more than a hundred bodies from the ship," coast guard official Floriana Segreto told Reuters.
The boat, carrying mainly Eritreans and Somalis, sank in the early hours of Thursday after fuel caught fire onboard, triggering a panicked rush to one side of the vessel, which capsized and sank.
Italy is holding a day of mourning on Friday, and schools will observe a minute's silence in memory of the victims, who died four days after 13 migrants drowned in a separate incident off eastern Sicily.
On a visit to Assisi, Pope Francis, who has made the plight of African migrants a central part of his mission, said the deaths in Lampedusa underlined the desperate state that faced the poor in a "savage world".
"Today is a day for crying," he said.
A ferry arrived early on Friday with a truck carrying about 100 coffins and four hearses for the dead, who are now lined along the floor of a hangar at the airport.
Lampedusa, a tiny fishing and tourist island located halfway between Sicily and Tunisia, has borne the brunt of a crisis which over the years has seen tens of thousands of migrants from Africa arriving in its port in unsafe and overcrowded boats.
Last year, almost 500 people were reported dead or missing on the crossing from Tunisia to Italy, the U.N. refugee office UNHCR says. Syrians fleeing civil war have added to the numbers.
The disaster has renewed pressure from Italy for more help from the European Union to combat the decades-long migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta's center-left Democratic Party (PD) called for an urgent meeting of the European Council to agree setting up special "humanitarian corridors" to provide protection for migrant boats.
It has also fuelled a growing political row in which the anti-immigration Northern League party has called for the resignation of Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, Italy's first black minister.
It said her call for better integration of migrants into Italy, including revised citizenship laws had "sent dangerous signals" to would-be migrants.
But the mayor of Lampedusa, Giusi Nicolini, rejected assertions by Northern League politician Matteo Salvini that the boats should be turned back because they are full of "illegal immigrants".
"These are refugees. We have a duty to take them in. They must be respected," she told Reuters. "The League's message is a virus that is contaminating people with hate. In a moment like this, they can't keep repeating this crap."
Much controversy surrounds Italy's severe immigration law, which requires repatriation of illegal immigrants who come to Italy and which has often led to the sequester of fishing boats that have saved the lives of migrants.
"This immigration law is killing people," said Enzo, a 44-year-old fisherman from Lampedusa.
He said that many fisherman like himself were afraid of having their boats taken away and being put on trial because several had been prosecuted under the current immigration law for helping save stranded migrants.
"We should send a ship to bring those who are fleeing wars to Italy safely. Right now, we're the ones who are killing them with our rules and bureaucracy," he said.
How FBI caught Ross Ulbricht, alleged creator of criminal marketplace Silk Road
by Tim Hume
The FBI caught the man accused of creating Silk Road -- the shadowy e-commerce site it describes as "the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today" -- after he allegedly posted his Gmail address online, according to court documents.
Federal agents swooped on Ross William Ulbricht in a San Francisco public library Tuesday afternoon, charging the 29-year-old American with narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering. They allege he is "the Dread Pirate Roberts," the Silk Road's mysterious founder, who drew his pseudonym from the feared, fictitious character in the film The Princess Bride.
The FBI claims the former physics and engineering student even publicly alluded to his alleged criminal enterprise on his LinkedIn profile, with a statement describing how his goals had "shifted" in accordance with his libertarian economic views since leaving grad school at Pennsylvania State University.
Ulbricht's LinkedIn profile states that, since completing his studies in 2010, he has focused on "creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force" of the kind imposed by "institutions and governments."
"I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression (sic) amongst mankind," he wrote.
In the indictment against Ulbricht, filed in a New York court, the FBI cyber-crime specialist who led the investigation, Christopher Tarbell, stated that he believed "that this 'economic simulation' referred to by Ulbricht is Silk Road."
The Amazon.com of vice
The FBI swiftly shuttered the site , an underground digital marketplace that, since its inception in 2011, has allowed users to anonymously trade illegal goods and services in near total secrecy, using the digital currency bitcoin, and an encryption network called Tor that routes traffic through a "hidden" area of the Internet known as "the dark web."
Tarbell said the site "sought to make conducting illegal transactions on the Internet as easy and frictionless as shopping online at mainstream e-commerce websites," and carried listings for hard drugs, hackers, counterfeit cash, forged ID documents, firearms, ammunition, even hitmen -- one of whom Ulbricht is alleged to have enlisted to kill a blackmailer.
According to the indictment, Silk Road had acquired nearly a million registered users worldwide -- about 30% of whom were based in the U.S. -- in its two and a half years of operation, providing them guidance on how to encrypt their communications and vacuum-pack their wares before shipping through the postal service to avoid detection by law enforcement. Last year, it said, the site added a "stealth mode" for users who considered themselves "at risk of becoming a target for law enforcement."
The indictment said the site had generated over 9.5 million bitcoins in sales revenue and over 600,000 bitcoins in commissions for its owner, allowing the site to employ a team of administrators. The value of bitcoins has fluctuated dramatically since the digital currency was created -- it plummeted after Ulbricht's arrest -- but Tarbell estimated Silk Road's turnover to be worth about $1.2 billion in sales, and $80 million in commissions.
In February, an Australian drug dealer became the first person to be convicted in connection to Silk Road after using the site to import cocaine and MDMA from Europe.
Catching the Dread Pirate Roberts
In the section of the indictment outlining how the link between Ulbricht and Dread Pirate Roberts was established, Tarbell detailed how an FBI expert codenamed Agent-1 had located an early online mention of Silk Road dating to January 27, 2011, when a user under the handle "Altoid" made a post on a forum for users of magic mushrooms.
"I came across this website called Silk Road," wrote Altoid, in a post which linked to the site. "I'm thinking of buying off it... Let me know what you think."
Two days later, someone using the handle "Altoid" made a similar post on a forum called Bitcoin Talk, recommending Silk Road and providing a link. "Has anyone seen Silk Road yet? It's kind of like an anonymous Amazon.com. I don't think they have heroin on there, but they are selling other stuff," it read.
The posts, said Tarbell, were an attempt to drum up interest in Silk Road, employing the online marketing tactic of "astroturfing."
Investigators were given a major break when, eight months later, "Altoid" made another posting on Bitcoin Talk, stating he was looking for "an IT pro in the Bitcoin community" to hire in connection with "a venture backed Bitcoin startup company." The posting asked interested parties to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The indictment also noted that Ulbricht and Dread Pirate Roberts were both vocal adherents of the libertarian theories of Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises, with Ulbricht's public Google+ account linking to YouTube videos posted by the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and Dread Pirate Roberts repeatedly crediting von Mises with "providing the philosophical underpinnings for Silk Road."
From a San Francisco Internet cafe
Tarbell said that while Dread Pirate Roberts used a "virtual private network," or VPN, to create a "false" IP address, the VPN server's records indicated a user had accessed it from a San Francisco Internet café near the home of a friend Ulbricht had gone to live with around September last year.
Records obtained from Google showed Ulbricht had regularly logged into his Gmail account from the Internet café, he said -- including on the same day in June that the VPN was accessed.
In July, Ulbricht was visited in San Francisco by Homeland Security agents who had intercepted a package from Canada containing fake ID documents in nine different names, each bearing a photograph of Ulbricht.
According to the indictment, Ulbricht -- whose roommates knew him as "Josh," and said he was always at home on his computer -- refused to answer questions about the IDs, but told the agents that "hypothetically" anyone could go on the Silk Road and purchase them.
In the weeks prior to the encounter, said Tarbell, Dread Pirate Roberts had been inquiring with Silk Road users about buying fake IDs, saying he needed them in order to rent extra servers for the site.
A killing for hire?
It was not the only time Ulbricht is alleged to have used the site to procure illegal services. Tarbell claimed that in March, Dread Pirate Roberts solicited the killing of a Silk Road user who was attempting to blackmail him by threatening to release the identities of thousands of users of the site.
The FBI alleges that the Canada-based extortionist, known as FriendlyChemist, demanded $500,000 to prevent the release of the information, prompting Dread Pirate Roberts to contact another user and order a hit on FriendlyChemist.
"In my eyes, FriendlyChemist is a liability and I wouldn't mind if he was executed," he is alleged to have written, before attempting to haggle down the price. "Don't want to be a pain here, but the price seems high. Not long ago, I had a clean hit done for $80k."
The FBI claims the hitman later sent a picture of the victim after the job was done -- for approximately $150,000 in bitcoins -- although Tarbell said Canadian authorities had no record of a Canadian resident with the name passed to the alleged hitman, nor any record of a homicide around that location and time.
Ulbricht's lawyer, Brandon Leblanc, declined to comment on the case.
Silk Road's closure is unlikely to bring an end to the trade of illegal goods on the "dark web," as similar sites operate on the Tor network.