WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump was abruptly escorted by a US Secret Service agent out of the White House briefing room as he was beginning a coronavirus briefing on Monday afternoon.
Trump was taken out of the room with no explanation for the disruption. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought were also taken out of the room and the doors were locked.
He returned minutes later, saying there was a “shooting” outside the White House that was “under control.”
“There was an actual shooting and somebody’s been taken to the hospital,” Trump said. The president said the shots were fired by law enforcement, saying he believed the individual who was shot was armed. “It was the suspect who was shot,” Trump said.
“I don’t know the condition of the person,” the Republican president added. No one else was injured.
Trump said he knew nothing about the identity or motives of the person shot, but when asked if the person had been armed, answered: “From what I understand, the answer is yes.” He said the shooting took place “pretty close” to the White House, “outside of the premises, near the fence.”
Trump said he was escorted to the Oval Office by the agent. The White House was placed on lockdown following the incident as black-clad secret service agents with automatic rifles rushed across the lawn north of the White House.
The shooting took place near 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue just blocks from the White House, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation who were not authorised to speak publicly about it. Law enforcement officials were still trying to determine the suspect’s motive.
The suspect was transferred to a local hospital, and the District of Columbia fire department said the man suffered serious or possibly critical injuries. Authorities were investigating whether the individual has a history of mental illness.
Trump praised the work of Secret Service personnel for their work in keeping him safe and said the agency would have more details on the event later.
Asked if he was shaken by the incident, Trump asked reporters: “I don’t know. Do I seem rattled?”