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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 3rd, 2013
05:40 PM ET

Sen. Sanders: I heard shots, and took cover

Sen. Bernie Sanders was walking the grounds of Capitol Hill with colleagues on Thursday, on his way back from a meeting, when he heard the gun shots.

"What I saw on Constitution Avenue was just a bunch of police cars racing down the street, sirens blaring, and then I stopped to look at that. Then I heard the gunshots, four or five shots, ring out," said the Independent from Vermont.

He and his colleagues immediately ran for cover.

What they heard were shots fired by police at a car that had been involved in an altercation at the White House and then chased across town.

The woman driver was shot and transported to a local hospital. Her condition was not known. A young child was also in the car, according to an intelligence source.

The child appeared to be uninjured, according to the source and witnesses.

Read: Car chase ends with gunfire near U.S. Capitol

Sanders was in Congress when police offers were shot and killed protecting then-House Majority Whip Tom Delay in 1998.

Today, Sanders praised the Capitol Hill police.

"They put their lives on the line. That's just not rhetoric," said Sanders, who added that because of the 1998 shooting, and the more recent Navy Yard shooting, tensions are high.

"There's a lot of tension in the air right now, a lot of unhinged folks out there. So you don't know what's going on. You don't know if that's a decoy, if something else is going on," said Sanders.

The police, said Sanders, acted immediately, telling people to get down.

"Senator (Roger) Wicker and I kind of ducked behind one of the SUVs over there, and we were escorted back into the Capitol," said Sanders.

Details of what led to the shooting are still unfolding, but Sanders said responding police officers did their job.

"Their job is to look at the worst case scenario. Is there a bomb in that car? Is this part of an overall attack on the Capitol? Who knows. They don't know at that moment," said Sanders.

Capitol Police said an officer was injured in a crash during the afternoon chase.

"At this point we can just hope that the police officer who was injured gets well as soon as possible, and to thank these guys for continuing to do good work, and to try to get this country together so we don't see horrific incidents like this," said Sanders.

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