search

Trump abruptly pulled from press briefing after shooting outside White House

Secret Service agents interrupt coronavirus briefing and rush president out of room; Trump returns, saying law enforcement shot apparently armed suspect, everything ‘under control’

US President Donald Trump being removed by a member of the secret service from the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 10, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
US President Donald Trump being removed by a member of the secret service from the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 10, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

WASHINGTON  —US Secret Service guards shot and wounded someone, apparently armed, outside the White House on Monday, US President Donald Trump said just after being briefly evacuated in the middle of a press conference.

As the president was speaking to reporters in the White House’s briefing room, a Secret Service bodyguard abruptly interrupted, saying in a quiet voice, “Sir, could you please come with me?”

Trump and staff members left. Doors to the briefing room, still filled with journalists, were locked.

Outside, black-clad Secret Service agents with automatic rifles could be seen rushing across the lawn and took up positions behind trees. According to Fox News, whose camera team was outside, two shots were heard.

US Secret Service Police stand outside the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, in Washington, as a news conference by President Donald Trump was paused. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Minutes later, Trump reappeared at the press conference and announced that someone had been shot by the Secret Service outside the White House grounds.

“Law enforcement shot someone, it seems to be the suspect. And the suspect is on the way to the hospital,” he said.

The shooting occurred just before 6 p.m. after a 51-year-old man approached a uniformed Secret Service officer near 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue just blocks from the White House and told the officer he had a weapon, Tom Sullivan, chief of the Secret Service Uniformed Division, said Monday night.

The man then turned around and “ran aggressively toward the officer, and in a drawing motion, removed an object from his clothing,” Sullivan said. The suspect then “crouched into a shooter’s stance, as if about to fire a weapon” before the officer shot the man once in the torso, he said.

Sullivan would not answer any questions at a late-night news conference near the scene and did not say whether the suspect was armed.

Both the suspect and the officer were taken to the hospital. The District of Columbia fire department said the suspect suffered serious or possibly critical injuries. Sullivan released no information about the officer.

Law enforcement officials were still trying to determine the suspect’s motive and authorities were investigating whether he has a history of mental illness. The suspect’s name was not immediately released.

“At no time during this incident was the White House complex breached or were any protectees in danger,” Sullivan said. The shooting has prompted an internal review by the Secret Service and is also being investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department, a standard protocol.

Trump, a Republican who faces a tough and bitterly divisive election on November 3, said he knew nothing about the identity or motives of the person shot. “It might not have had anything to do with me,” he said.

There was no immediate precise information on what sort of threat the person allegedly posed.

But when asked if the person had been armed, Trump answered: “From what I understand, the answer is yes.”

Trump said the incident took place “on the outside” of the White House perimeter, which is currently being reinforced by a new iron fence twice the height of the previous version.

“I don’t believe anything was breached, they were relatively far away,” he added.

Law enforcement officials gather following a shooting at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House, Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Returning to the podium after the disruption, Trump appeared calm. He resumed his virulent criticism of opposition Democrats and praise for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, which polls show two-thirds of Americans believe he has botched.

Questioned whether the security incident had rattled him, Trump answered: “I don’t know, do I seem rattled?”

“It’s unfortunate that this is the world, but the world’s always been a dangerous place,” he said.

Philipos Melaku, one of a small group of veteran protesters who camp out near the White House, said he had heard a shot.

“I heard a gunshot and before that I heard screaming,” he told AFP.

“It was a male voice,” he said.

A U.S. Secret Service police officer stands on the roof of the the White House, Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, in Washington, as a news conference by President Donald Trump was paused. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“After that immediately, pointing their AR-15s, at least eight or nine men came in running.”

Trump went on to praise the US Secret Service, which is in charge of guarding the president, as “fantastic people, the best of the best.”

“I feel very safe with Secret Service,” he said. “A lot of terrific looking people ready to go if something was necessary.”

read more:
comments