WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two women were arrested in Florida after police opened fire on them for running two security checkpoints near Mar-a-Lago on Friday in a car chase that was unrelated to U.S. President Donald Trump’s resort, officials said.
Trump was in Washington at the time, but was scheduled to leave for his Palm Beach resort later on Friday.
The vehicle’s driver, identified as Hannah Roemhild, 30, initially attracted police’s attention for behaving erratically and dancing on top of her car at The Breakers resort in Palm Beach, county sheriff Ric Bradshaw told reporters.
After police approached her she took off in a black SUV and was pursued by police through the town of Palm Beach at speeds in excess of 70 mph, at some point picking up the second woman, officials said.
“This is not a terrorist thing,” Bradshaw told a press conference, adding that Roemhild did not appear to have a police record and had a Connecticut driving license. “This is someone who was obviously impaired somehow and driving very recklessly.”
Sheriff’s deputies and Secret Service agents fired on the vehicle after it crashed through two checkpoints and approached a third on the outer perimeter of Mar-a-Lago at about 11:38, Bradshaw said.
“We didn’t know if it was someone with a car bomb or someone who was going to hit as many pedestrians as possible,” he said, adding that no-one was injured in the incident.
In what appeared to be Roemhild’s Facebook page, she identifies herself as an opera singer from Middletown, Connecticut. A January 2017 post on the page shows women protesters wearing pink hats, one holding a sign saying “Not My President” next to a picture of Trump. A June 2017 post shows a cartoon of Donald Duck turned upside down to resemble Trump.
Roemhild is likely to face charges of assault on a federal officer, deadly assault on a sheriff’s deputy and various traffic charges for driving her car through the checkpoints, Bradshaw said.
“There was clearly no intention,” said Bradshaw, who declined to comment on a motive for Roemhild’s actions. “I’m not so sure she knew where she was going.”
Reporting by Susan Heavey and Peter Szekely in New York; additional reporting by Andrew Hay in New Mexico; editing by Grant McCool and Alistair Bell