Secret Service guards shot a person, who was apparently armed, outside the White-House on Monday, President Donald Trump said just after being briefly evacuated in the middle of a press conference.
The president was abruptly ushered out of the press event and black-clad secret service agents with automatic rifles rushed across the lawn north of the White House.
Minutes later, Trump reappeared at the press conference, where journalists had been locked in, and announced that someone had been shot outside the White House grounds.
The Secret Service tweeted that it “can confirm there has been an officer-involved shooting at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Ave.”
Incident happened one block away from the Presidential residence
The Secret Service said the incident happened one block from the compound when an officer fired on the suspect who had run “aggressively” towards him.
An agent then walked on stage as Mr Trump was speaking and led him away.
The president returned minutes later to say the situation was under control.
The US Secret Service said the incident happened on Monday on the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Ave – outside the White House perimeter.
It said a 51-year-old man, who has not been identified, approached the officer, told him he had weapons and assumed a “shooter’s stance”, whereupon the officer shot him in the torso.
— TheSentral.my (@ThesentralM) August 11, 2020
The Secret Service did not say whether the man was armed. It added that “both the officer and the suspect were then taken to hospital”, and that “at no time during this incident was the White House complex breached”.
After Mr Trump and his staff left, doors to the briefing room were locked with the journalists inside.
When the president returned nine minutes later, he said: “Law enforcement shot someone, it seems to be the suspect.”
He said he did not know if the person harboured any ill intentions towards him.
“It might not have had anything to do with me,” the president said.
A journalist asked Mr Trump if he was rattled by the events. He replied: “Do I seem rattled?”
Individual may have background of mental illness
The president added: “It’s unfortunate that this is the world, but the world’s always been a dangerous place. It’s not something that’s unique.”
The District of Columbia fire department said a man suffered serious or possibly critical injuries, according to the Associated Press.
The news agency also reported that authorities were looking into whether the armed person outside the White-house has a background of mental illness.
“Law enforcement shot someone, it seems to be, the suspect. And the suspect is on the way to the hospital,” he said.
U.S. Secret Service Agent Shoots Armed Man Near White House https://t.co/mF1Lp3hFKz
— Officer.com (@OfficerCom) August 11, 2020
Trump said he knew nothing about the identity or motives of the person shot, but when asked if the person had been armed, he answered: “From what I understand, the answer is yes.”
“It might not have had anything to do with me,” Trump added, saying the incident took place “on the outside” of the White House perimeter.
“I don’t believe anything was breached, they were relatively far away,” he added.
Outside the White House, the situation was calm, but a portion of the surrounding streets had been blocked off, with a number of police and other official vehicles converging towards the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
Philipos Melaku, a protester who has been camping in front of the White House for years, said he had heard a shot fired at around 5:50 pm (2150 GMT).
“I heard a gunshot and before that I heard screaming,” he told AFP.
“It was a male voice,” he said. “After that immediately, pointing their AR-15s, at least eight or nine men came in running.”
Following the security scare, Trump returned almost immediately to the White House podium where he resumed his scheduled press conference.
Asked if he was rattled by the armed person outside the White-House, he replied: “The world’s always been a dangerous place. It’s not something that’s unique.”
Trump went onto praise the Secret Service 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.”
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk