Sen. Barbara Boxer's Washington office in the Hart Senate Office Building is only feet from the intersection of Constitution Avenue and Second Street Northeast on Capitol Hill, a quiet corner this week with the federal government partly shut down.
But Thursday, it was the scene of a shooting that left a woman dead and a police officer injured.
The California Democrat was preparing for a 2:30 p.m. press conference on the government shutdown's impact on federal functions such as the Environmental Protection Agency. Boxer is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees environmental matters.
About 10 minutes before the press conference, which was scheduled to take place in the adjacent Dirksen Senate Office Building, shots rang out. Boxer, her committee staff and a group of reporters took shelter for 45 minutes in a conference room while the Capitol was under lockdown.
Here is her account:
"I came back from the Democratic caucus lunch, a little early because I wanted to brief my staff on the shutdown situation, before I went off to a press conference in Dirksen on the Environmental Protection Agency, and we were just sitting down and starting to talk and heard these incredibly loud noises outside the window.
"And we looked at each other because we've never heard sounds like this just in rapid succession: boom, boom, boom, boom. About five or six. And then we knew something terrible had happened, we didn't know if it was bullets or the barricades going up.
"But we got up and we went over to the staircase we have and we got the young people down who were working upstairs and said 'come down and stand with us' in the stairwell and we stayed away from the windows. It's just extremely unnerving; we didn't know what was going to happen next. And then we went into our conference room which has no windows there and we just put on TV and tried to follow what was happening.
"This was a frightening incident that shows once again how our brave law enforcement community protects all of us every day. I am deeply concerned about the Capitol Police officer who was injured and am praying for his speedy recovery."
PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer listens to a speaker after she took a tour of the new terminal construction at the Sacramento International Airport on Wednesday, June 7, 2010. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua