WASHINGTON – An internal investigation has been launched into the shooting of a 51-year-old suspect by a Secret Service officer near the White House complex late Monday, which prompted agents to briefly remove President Donald Trump from a press briefing.
Shortly before 6 p.m., according to an agency statement, the man allegedly approached a Secret Service uniformed officer standing post about a block from the White House grounds, telling the officer that he had a weapon.
“The suspect then turned around, ran aggressively towards the officer, and in a drawing motion, withdrew an object from his clothing,” the agency said. “He then crouched into a shooter’s stance as if about to fire a weapon. The Secret Service officer discharged his weapon, striking the individual in the torso. “
No firearm was found on the suspect, said a law enforcement official who is not authorized to comment publicly.
Both the suspect and the officer were transported to local hospitals. Their conditions were not immediately known Tuesday.
Although the White House complex was not breached and no government officials were threatened, the Secret Service interrupted Trump’s press briefing, as it was being broadcast on cable television, and escorted the president to an area near the Oval Office as a precaution.
Briefing interrupted:Trump abruptly taken out of briefing room as White House goes into lockdown
The president was in the middle of his opening statement when an agent came to his side and escorted him off the podium. Trump returned to the room after a few moments and reported that there had been a shooting outside the White House.
“It was law enforcement shot someone, it seems to be the suspect. And the suspect is now on the way to the hospital,” Trump said.
The Secret Service Office of Professional Responsibility is conducting an internal review of the officers actions and the D.C Metropolitan Police Department also has been asked to investigate.
“You were surprised, I was surprised also,” Trump said.
At the time, Trump said he wasn’t aware of the reason for the shooting.
“It might not have had anything to do with me,” Trump said. “It might have been something else.”
Asked if he was rattled by the experience, Trump responded: “Do I seem rattled?”
Lock downs at the White House are relatively common and can happen for nearby shooters, breaches of the White House perimeter and even bags abandoned nearby. But it is rare for lockdowns to occur when the president is on stage and extremely rare for the president to be removed by Secret Service in the middle of remarks.
The last high-profile lock down took place in May because of protesters outside the White House, demonstrating over the death of George Floyd.
Reporters inside the White House indicated the building was on lock down shortly after the shooting. Trump professed little worry about his own safety.
“The world has always been a dangerous place,” Trump said. “That’s not something that’s unique.”
The president returned to the briefing room minutes later and, after fielding several questions about the shooting, returned to his prepared remarks.
“So I was telling you that the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 are now 50% above the March level,” he said.
“Spent twelve years in the Secret Service and I’ve never seen that before,” tweeted Dan Bongino, a Republican commentator and former Secret Service agent.