Pelham Parkway dentist Dr. Steven Oken never expected his employee, Miriam Carey, would snap.
It’s been over a week since Oken learned Carey was fatally shot by police during a Washington D.C. car chase that shocked the nation.
But Oken’s reserved judgment on Carey, a hygienist for the past eight years at his Bronx Dental Implants and Periodontics office.
“This was totally out of character from what we knew of her here,” said Oken, an oral surgeon, recalling the moment ABC News called his office explaining Carey led police in a wild chase around landmarks in the nation’s capital.
“I was like ‘There’s no way she was involved. Someone must’ve stolen her car,’” he said.
Oken’s office has received dozens of calls from patients since then, asking if the same woman who cleaned their teeth was behind the chaotic mess that put the nation’s capital on high alert, with the Capitol building on lock-down.
But Oken would rather remember a woman who reveled with co-workers at a cruise getaway several months before, who laughed, delivered problem-free service and shared pictures of her new baby girl Erica to staffers.
Before her violent episode, Carey was part of a pool of hygienists, performing oral maintenance on hundreds of patients from the borough and beyond since 2005. The 34-year-old shared dreams of becoming a teacher and dentist.
Carey, a single mother with an infectious smile, came to work at 1550 Pelham Parkway South once a week, carrying out exceptional customer service the office strived for, according to Oken.
“The patients really loved her,” he remembered. “At least in this office she had a good, upbeat personality.”
Carey, residing in Connecticut, came to work every Tuesday. She did so on Oct. 1, bringing “a better attitude than usual,” said Oken.
But two days later, for unexplained reasons, Carey entered her black Infinity car with her 1-year-old baby, driving three and a half hours to Washington D.C. with no weapon. On a busy day loaded with tour buses and hundreds of visitors, Carey initially attempted to smash through two security gates at the White House.
Police soon cornered her, though she quickly sped off, forcing a high-speed pursuit. Officers caught up with her near Capitol Hill at Pennsylvania Avenue NW, where she attempted to drive through another security barricade. A team of officers soon opened fire, with a barrage of bullets killing an unarmed Carey while Erica looked on.
While her motive remains sketchy, Carey was known to be mentally ill and on medication.
Along with suffering from postpartum psychosis, Carey was considered severely unbalanced, often believing President Obama had wiretapped her, authorities said. With Carey now dead, little Erica is left without a mother.
Oken has now organized a fund for the infant, hoping donors can look beyond the end of Carey’s life and focus on her past.
“If patients come in, maybe they can give something,” said Oken.