A man died after he reportedly shot himself in the head outside the north fence lining the White House, according to published reports. His name is being withheld pending notification to his next of kin.
How did this affect White House security?
The incident occurred shortly before noon and intensifying White House security, according to CBS News. Law enforcement officials and the Secret Service told CBS News the man apparently shot himself. The FBI and D.C. police also responded to the incident, and the latter sent its “natural death unit” to the scene. No other injuries were reported.
President Donald Trump is in West Palm Beach with First Lady Melania Trump but was briefed on the incident, according to reports. Trump is expected to return to the White House Saturday night.
The apparent public suicide led to a security clamp down at the White House, where reporters were temporarily given shelter in the basement.
It was unclear if the incident was a political message. CBS News security analyst Ron Hosko reported that law enforcement will likely consider that possibility as they investigate.
“You can get pretty darn close to the White House with a weapon,” Hosko said. Although security is very tight around the White House, people can get close to the perimeter, he said.
What else happened?
Philipos Melaku-Bello, was manning a nearby peace vigil, told The Washington Post that the gunman was “standing just inside the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue, across from Lafayette Square.”
The report stated:
The man fired several shots at 11:46 a.m., although none appeared to have been directed at the White House, according to the Secret Service. He then dropped to the ground as people fled the area.
“Guns again!” Melaku-Bello heard someone shout. “Guns again!”
“Do you think that was shots?” one woman asked, before she began to sob.
Just over one week ago, a 35-year-old driver was arrested after his vehicle hit a security barrier near the White House. Trump was there at the time.
The apparent public suicide comes as the nation reels from a February shooting that left 17 dead at a Florida high school. Politicians are grappling with how to limit gun violence while still protecting gun ownership rights provided by the Second Amendment.
A video posted to Twitter shows people running from the area as police sirens go off in the background.
— Florian Luhn (@FlorianLuhn) March 3, 2018