At the Brooklyn housing project where Miriam Carey grew up with her mother and four sisters, residents Thursday night were stunned to learn that she had been killed in a police chase near the U.S. Capitol.

They described Carey, 34, of Stamford, Conn., as intelligent, attractive and able to transcend her circumstances: growing up in the gritty Louis H. Pink Houses of East New York.

Residents said Carey told them she worked at a dentist's office.

"She got out; she got a good job," said Michael Brown, 33, a physical-fitness trainer who grew up with Carey.

Brown said Carey frequently visited the building at 1167 Stanley Ave., sometimes wearing pink scrubs.

Carey grew up the second oldest of five sisters, Brown said. He said she attended PS 224 and Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn. "It's sad, man," Brown said of his friend's death. "It's shocking."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Malik Santana, 31, a football coach who grew up with Carey, said she had attended college in Connecticut and had been living there for about five years.

"That's nuts," Santana said. "We just seen her the other day. She was normal."

Carey's mother, who still lives in the complex, left a note explaining what had happened before leaving Thursday night, according to a woman who identified herself as Carey's sister.

"She's in heaven," she said.

In Stamford, there was a heavy law enforcement presence outside Carey's home in an apartment complex. At about 10 p.m., a police official said a search hadn't yet begun but the Stamford Police Department, including the bomb squad, were on the scene as part of a joint investigation with the FBI, Secret Service and Connecticut State Police. Fifty units in the complex were evacuated although authorities said they had no evidence there was anything hazardous inside Carey's unit.

By 11 p.m. last night, the Red Cross had arrived and was providing assistance to residents shut out of their apartments

"We are right now making this building safe," Stamford Police Chief John Fontneau said late last night at a news conference. "We are at this point awaiting a search warrant," he said. "Until we get that search warrant and make that building safe, no one can go into that residence for the evening."