An innocent Kiwi "brostander" achieved unlikely stardom in the midst of an American shooting drama, but his Wellington girlfriend is just glad her shirtless paramour is safe.
A woman was shot dead by US police in Washington DC yesterday after leading the Secret Service and law enforcement on a car chase from the White House past the Capitol.
She had attempted to get past security barriers at both national landmarks, police said.
After delivering his eyewitness account of the lockdown on Capitol Hill to a media throng, while shirtless, Wellington construction worker Matthew Jacobs, 26, was christened "Bro Witness".
Tourists, congressional staff and some senators watched the car chase near the US equivalent of New Zealand's Parliament, which was briefly locked down even as lawmakers inside debated how to end a government shutdown.
The woman's car at one point had been surrounded by police cars and she managed to escape, careening around a traffic circle and past the north side of the Capitol.
Two law enforcement officials identified the female driver as 34-year-old Miriam Carey, of Stamford, Connecticut. She was traveling with a 1-year-old girl who avoided serious injury and was in protective custody.
Carey's mother, Idella Carey, told ABC News on Friday that her daughter began suffering from post-natal depression after giving birth to her daughter, Erica, last August.
"She had post-partum depression after having the baby" she said. She added, "A few months later, she got sick. She was depressed. ... She was hospitalised."
Idella Carey said her daughter had "no history of violence" and she didn't know why she was in Washington, DC. She said she thought Carey was taking Erica to a doctor's appointment in Connecticut.
Video shot by a TV cameraman showed police pointing firearms at her car before she rammed a Secret Service vehicle and continued driving. She was then shot and killed a block northeast of the historic building.
Capitol Police said there appeared to be no terrorist link.
The bike-riding Mr Jacobs, who is on a six-week United States Contiki tour, diverted attention.
Photos on Twitter of Mr Jacobs, captioned "Bro Witness," quickly sent media into a flap - owing, no doubt, to the tourist's winning combination of shirtlessness, a Miami Dolphins cap - and a mysterious Kiwi accent.
GQ magazine praised his "vague wife-beater tan lines".
"Shirtless Brostander Effortlessly Diverts Debate Away From Gun Control and Government-Shutdown Safety," read Vanity Fair's headline.
Mr Jacobs was also photographed with police, who appeared to take the newly-minted social media star aside for questioning.
Questioned by reporters about his shirtless attire, Mr Jacobs replied: "When in Rome."
He later had his girlfriend to answer to.
"I asked him why he had his top off and he said it was hot, and I was like, 'oh, OK'," Rocky Taggart, of Lower Hutt said.
The CrossFit coach was bemused by her boyfriend's newfound fame.
"By the sounds of it he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
"I'm glad that he's actually alright, more than anything else - I just think it's a laugh."
The American term "bro" has more in common with a "fratboy" or someone that embraces the fraternity culture than its laid back Kiwi characterisation, according to the Urban Dictionary.
Reference to 'Bro Witness' and Mr Jacobs has already appeared on website knowyourmeme.com as well as blogs and news sites.
Some unlikely cultural ambassadors have sent New Zealand - and the Kiwi accent - soaring to dubious internet stardom.
1."Naturally, I finished my set."
Bro Witness is not the first Kiwi to go viral with a nonchalant attitude amid chaos. Cameron Leslie, a New Zealander living in Norway, attracted attention at the scene of a bombing by Anders Breivik, the killer responsible for the 2011 Utoya Island massacre.
Mr Leslie had been pumping iron when the bomb hit near his gym in Oslo. The avid weightlifter told Campbell Live: "Naturally I finished my set."
2. "Nek minnit"
Another shirtless Kiwi coined a catchphrase in a 2011 YouTube clip. In the-48 second video, which has racked up millions of views, skateboarder Levi Hawken tells how he left his scooter outside the dairy and - "nek minnit" - it's munted.
MATTHEW 'BRO WITNESS' JACOBS' INTERVIEW
- The Dominion Post
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