Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist who lived in Stamford, Conn., was shot and killed by police Thursday after a high-speed chase from the White House to Capitol Hill.
Investigators say the woman had serious mental health issues and was under the delusion that President Barack Obama was communicating with her. Her family members don't know why she drove to Washington, but they say deadly force wasn't necessary.
"Why was my sister shot and killed with her 1-year-old daughter in the car and she was unarmed," asked the woman's sister, Valerie Carey.
Driving a black Infiniti with her daughter in the backseat, Carey struck a law enforcement officer who tried to stop her from barreling through a White House checkpoint.
"We're in a siege mentality, terrorism. We're afraid of everything," said Eric Sanders, a family spokesman.
Investigators believe Carey grappled with mental illness. Her family says she had been on medication but insist she was not a criminal. They said she was a "law-abiding citizen, carefree, loving, just like anyone else."
"She had a baby, and she did suffer from post-partum depression with psychosis," said Amy Carey-Jones, another sister.
When police converged on Miriam Carey's vehicle with guns drawn, she backed up and sped off. That's when the officers opened fire. Her daughter was not hurt.
One of her sisters, Valerie Carey, is a former New York City police officer. She says she was trained to deal with emotionally disturbed people without using weapons.
"I'm more than certain that there was no need for a gun to be used when there was no gunfire coming from the vehicle," she said.
Authorities say interviews with some of those who knew Miriam Carey suggest she was troubled long before she decided to drive to the nation's capital.