Press Clippings & Releases

Press Clipping: Kennesaw State University SGA Leaders Caught in D.C. During Car Chase, Shooting

SGA Leaders Caught in D.C. During Car Chase, Shooting

October 15th, 2013

Student Government Association President Katherine Street and Vice President Khylil Chestnut were in Washington D.C. with SGA adviser Bernard McCrary for the 2013 American Student Government Conference when the scene erupted into chaos.

A woman drove her Nissan Infiniti into a White House barricade just after 2 p.m. on Oct. 3 before leading police on a car chase to the U.S. Capitol, where officers shot and killed the woman who had a 1-year- old daughter in the vehicle.

Street, Chestnut and McCrary had just finished meeting with Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson at his office and were at the Capitol taking pictures when they realized something wasn't right.

"As soon as we were about to take the picture, that's when all the pandemonium started," said McCrary, who witnessed police officers and members of the Secret Service take off running.

"We were on the street right in front of the Capitol steps," Street said. "We were standing there about to take our picture when we saw policemen sprinting and putting on vests and running around with big rifles."

"That's when I was like, ‘OK. It just got real.' Something's happening," McCrary said.

McCrary said he could see a car traveling really fast with police in pursuit but at the time didn't know whose car it was.

"At that point, we didn't know what was going on," McCrary said. "We see these police officers running toward us with rifles and we hear these shots ring out. There were maybe five or six of them, it happened really, really fast. They were like ‘Get down, get down, everybody get down!'"

At that point, the three of them took cover behind a tree as McCrary protected the SGA leaders by covering their heads.

Street said in a situation like that, it's natural to wonder what is going on and try to look around, but McCrary kept their heads down.

"He's our adviser," she said. "That's what he's going to do."

"I felt like I was just doing my job," McCrary said. "I didn't see myself as a hero or anything. My instinct was just to protect them as much as I could."

Capitol police then instructed the trio to get inside a guard shed on the Capitol lawn, where they crammed into the tiny structure with about 50 others.

From the shed, Street called her father to let him know what had happened and tell him they were alright.

"I wasn't very emotional until I heard my dad's voice," Street said. "And then I started crying because I didn't know what was going to happen and that was tough."

"Nothing prepares you for phone calls like that, particularly from your daughter," said Street's father, Jay. "I felt like I was kicked in the gut."

He said he had a difficult time hearing his daughter over all the people in the guard shed and felt helpless because he was so far away.

"I don't know how many people were in there but it seemed like they were all talking at once," Jay Street said. "All I knew was my daughter was in danger and there was nothing I could do."

After police shot the woman and gained control of the situation, they instructed those taking refuge in the shed to come into the Capitol. The group stayed there from 30 to 45 minutes before they were allowed to leave.

"You go through something like that and it changes you," Street said. "What I really learned was you can't waste life. You can't let it go by. You have to make the most of it."

"It was an eye-opening experience and truly taught me to cherish every second we have on this beautiful planet," Chestnut said.

In a heartfelt email addressed to McCrary, Jay Street thanked him for being there and protecting his daughter during a potentially dangerous situation. "While Norma and I felt absolutely incapable of doing anything to help our daughter in those moments, I want you to know how much comfort it was to us that you were there with Katherine and Khy ‘watching their backs,'" the message read. "I thank you for protecting my daughter, Mr. McCrary. We are so grateful that Katherine has the privilege of working with such a man of valor and a man of honor."