President Trump's Press Briefing Interrupted By Shooting Near White House

WCBS 880 Newsroom
August 10, 2020 - 11:05 pm

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) — President Donald Trump’s press conference was cut short Monday due to a shooting near the White House.

The president was in the middle of updating reporters on the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic when a Secret Service agent suddenly pulled him aside and whispered in his ear.

The two exchanged words briefly and then President Trump was abruptly escorted out of the room. Reporters were then placed on lockdown as the situation was assessed.

About nine minutes later, the president returned to the briefing room and told reporters a shooting that happened outside the White House was "under control."

"We just found out just now it was outside the White House, we'll have details for you in a little while," the president told reporters. "Somebody is taken to the hospital, it seems that the shooting was done by law enforcement at that person, at the suspect, it was the suspect who was shot, and this just took place."

Trump said the shooting happened outside the White House, but near the fence that surrounds the lawn and building. Authorities confirmed the shooting happened on the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

In a statement, the Secret Service said the incident began when a 51-year-old man approached an officer and claimed he had a weapon.

The suspect then turned around, ran towards the officer, withdrew an object from his clothing and crouched into a shooter's stance as if he was about to fire a weapon.

The Secret Service officer discharged his weapon, sriking the suspect in the torso.

The suspect was taken to a local hospital, and the District of Columbia fire department said the man suffered serious or possibly critical injuries. Authorities are investigating whether the person has a history of mental illness.

A motive for the incident was not clear.

"It might not have had anything to do with me, it might've been something else, but it was on the outside of the premises," President Trump said. 

The president had said he believed the suspect was armed, but the Associated Press reports Tom Sullivan, chief of the Secret Service Uniformed Division, would not answer any questions at a late-night news conference near the scene and did not say whether the suspect was had a weapon.

The investigation is ongoing and the Secret Service Office of Professional Responsibility will conduct an interal review of the officer's actions.

Shooting outside White House
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

When asked if he was frightened by the sudden shooting, the president responded, "Do I seem rattled?"

"It's unfortunate that this is a world, but the world's always been a dangerous place, it's not something that's unique, you look back over the centuries the world has been a dangerous place and it will continue I guess for a period of time," he said.

After the first briefing ended, the president was escorted to the Oval Office, but said he felt very safe with the Secret Service agents. 

"I feel very safe with the Secret Service, they're fantastic people, they're the best of the best and they're highly trained," the president said. "I don't know if anybody got to walk outside, but there were a lot of terrific looking people ready to go if something was necessary, people at the highest level of law enforcement. There's nobody like these people, so they just wanted me to step aside for a little while just to make sure that everything was cleared outside cause it was right in this area."

He continued to finish out the remainder of the coronavirus briefing and said he "didn't even think about not coming back." Trump also noted that reporters and visitors would continue to see "a lot of fortification outside" as a precaution, but stressed that there was only one suspect. 

The Secret Service said the White House complex was not breached during the incident and no Secret Service protectees were ever in danger.

Stay informed, stay connected — follow WCBS 880 on Facebook and TwitterDownload the RADIO.COM app + favorite WCBS 880 for breaking news, traffic and weather alerts.