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A Miracle Almost Happened Today, But It Was Not So Miraculous...

by BrownOneYQue & AP Thursday, Feb. 08, 2001 at 10:25 PM
BrownOneYQue BrownOneYQue

According to the associated press, a man brandishing a gun outside the White House fence was shot by a Secret Service officer Wednesday after a 10-minute standoff, officials said. The episode triggered a tight security clampdown

{Note: This story was appropriated from the Associated Press. My intentions are to

comment on how it fits into the agenda of Bush' recent suggestion that Pennsylvania

Avenue be opened to the public again. Although the the appearance and apprehension

of gunman is true, I question whether this was the act of an assailant, or was the whole

incident "theatrical," intended to support some other agenda--an excuse not to reopen

Pennsylvania, further fortify the White House from the public, and garner "sympathy" for

Bush's personal safety. I don't buy it, although I dream that miracles still happen.}

Gunman Is Shot Outside White House

WASHINGTON (AP) - A man brandishing a gun outside the

White House fence was shot by a Secret Service officer

Wednesday after a 10-minute standoff, officials said. The

episode triggered a tight security clampdown.

President Bush was safe in his residence, exercising, at the

time. Vice President Dick Cheney was working in his office.

Laura Bush was at the family ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The wounded man was Robert W. Pickett, 47, of Evansville,

Ind., according to law enforcement officials. He was taken to

nearby George Washington University Hospital where he was

to undergo surgery.

Secret Service officers on patrol heard shots fired about

11:30 a.m., White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.

They spotted a man holding a gun, some distance from the

southwest gate.

The officers had ``a 10-minute standoff that was followed by

one shot to the suspect's leg and he was taken into custody,''

Fleischer said. He said the gunman's wound was not

life-threatening.

Secret Service spokesman Marc Connolly said an officer fired

one shot, which struck the gunman in the right knee, and no

shots were fired by the man during his encounter with police.

However, law enforcement officers were investigating whether

the man fired shots before police approached him.

Law enforcement sources, speaking on condition of

anonymity, said authorities were investigating the possibility

the man was trying to provoke a shooting by police.

The suspect, who was carrying a handgun, was not listed in

Secret Service files as a known threat to the president, law

enforcement sources said.

Neighbors back home described Pickett as a friendly man, an

accountant who had lived in a modest home in Evansville and

kept a neat lawn. He frequently jogged.

``I was really surprised. As far as I knew, he was an

outstanding neighbor,'' said Lewis Gates.

Secret Service agents were using metal detectors in an effort

to find shell casings to determine how many shots were fired

in the incident.

Connolly said the man had been ``brandishing a gun.''

A witness said she heard a popping sound, followed by

smoke. After that, Secret Service officers ``told him to `drop

it''' and then sit down. And then he ``slowly sat down on the

ground,'' said the witness, Sook Jo from Centreville, Va.

Dan Halpert, a tourist from Queens, N.Y., was headed to the

Holocaust museum, across the Mall from the White House,

when officers told him to get down and clear the area.

``We were all running away. It was scary,'' said Halpert, 24.

Another witness Martin Manley told CNN the gunman ``was

just standing in the street and randomly fired a few shots.''

He said the man jumped into bushes, was surrounded by

police but initially refused to surrender.

``Police were talking to him, telling him `it doesn't have to be

this way, put the gun down,''' Manley said. ``Then I heard one

shot and the police all rushed in.''

Connolly, the Secret Service spokesman, said nobody else

was injured, and the gunman never was inside the White

House fence.

Plainclothes police officers were guarding the emergency

room entrance where the man was taken. Secret Service

agents and police surrounded the White House.

Rep. Bob Clement, D-Tenn., said he was attending a White

House meeting when the Secret Service alerted people there

had been a shooting ``and not to leave the White House. ...

Believe it or not, it was very calm where we were.''

At the Treasury Department next door, the entrance between

the department and White House was immediately closed.

Security has been tightened in and around the White House in

recent years. The most significant change was the closing of

the section of Pennsylvania Avenue that passed in front of the

Executive Mansion. Wednesday's incident was on the

opposite side of the White House, the back side facing toward

the Washington Monument.

In May 1995, the Secret Service shot a man who scaled a

White House fence, carrying an unloaded gun. An official said

at the time the man had asked to see President Clinton.

Nine months earlier, a pilot died when he crashed a small

plane on the South Lawn of the White House. About a month

later, a man pulled a rifle from under his trench coat and

sprayed the front of the White House with bullets.

More than a mile east of the White House, in the summer of

1998, a gunman went on a shooting spree in the U.S. Capitol,

killing two policemen.

Russell Eugene Weston, 43, has been held since then. He has

not stood trial for the slayings because doctors have said he is

mentally ill and unable to do so.

In March 1981, a gunman shot President Reagan, press

secretary James Brady and a D.C. policeman outside a

Washington hotel as the president was getting into his

motorcade.

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TITLE AUTHOR DATE
RE: A Miracle Almost Happened Today Gorden Liddy Friday, Feb. 09, 2001 at 3:51 AM
What Do You Think, Gordon? Philip Agnew Friday, Feb. 09, 2001 at 7:34 PM

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