Trump ducks out after shooting near White House

Top News | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 12 Aug 2020

Secret Service agents shot and wounded an armed man outside the White House, President Donald Trump said, after he had been whisked away briefly midway through a press conference.

It was later claimed a 51-year-old man had approached a Secret Service officer standing at the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, a block from the White House.

Tom Sullivan, chief of the Secret Service Uniformed Division, said the man told the officer he had a weapon and ran "aggressively" at him, drawing an object out of his clothes.

The man then assumed a "shooter's stance" as if he intended to fire, Sullivan said, so the officer shot him in the torso.

Officers on the scene administered first aid to the man and both the suspect and the officer were taken to hospital.

A review of the officer's actions was under way, Sullivan said.

Trump had been speaking to reporters in the White House briefing when a bodyguard interrupted to ask him to leave.

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

Outside, black-clad Secret Service agents with automatic rifles rushed around and took positions behind trees. Two shots were reportedly heard.

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

"It seems to be the suspect," he added. "And the suspect is on the way to the hospital."

Trump also said: "It might not have had anything to do with me." He 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.

"The White House complex was never breached during the incident," Sullivan confirmed.

Back on the podium, Trump resumed a 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.

Then questioned on whether the security incident had rattled him, Trump answered: "I don't know, do I seem rattled?"

He continued: "It's unfortunate that this is the world, but the world's always been a dangerous place."

Philipos Melaku, one of a small group of veteran protesters who camp out near the White House, said he had heard a gunshot "and before that I heard screaming. It was a male voice."

That was followed by the sight of officers "pointing their AR-15s. At least eight or nine men came running."

Trump praised the Secret Service, which is in charge of guarding the president.

"Fantastic people, the best of the best," he declared. "I feel very safe with the Secret Service. A lot of terrific-looking people ready to go if something is necessary."


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