WASHINGTON Law enforcement officers shot a man who brandished a gun near the White House on Friday while President Barack Obama was out golfing, and the man was taken to hospital in critical condition, officials and witnesses said.
The Secret Service, which protects the president, briefly locked down the White House as a precaution, and Vice President Joe Biden was secured within the White House complex during the lockdown, a White House spokeswoman said.
The shooting took place just off 17th and E streets, near what is known as the South Lawn outside the executive mansion, which serves as the home and offices of the president.
A man who looked to be in his mid-20s walked to the gate of the White House holding a silver-coloured gun pointed at the ground, said Brett Polivka, a 26-year-old visitor from Texas who was standing near the south side of the White House.
"A couple officers drew their guns, went right at him and within two or three seconds we heard a gunshot," Polivka said.
One person in critical condition was transported to hospital, the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.
The Secret Service confirmed a police involved shooting near the White House complex, reporting on Twitter that all the people under its protection were safe. The Secret Service, which also protects the president's family and other top dignitaries, did not say if Obama's wife and daughters were home at the time.
"There was a real sense of urgency. You could tell something big was going on," said Steve Snider, a 47-year-old from Seattle who was standing near the north side of the White House when he heard whistling and saw officers holding assault weapons moving towards the west side of the mansion.
The shooting followed several incidents that raised questions about whether the White House was adequately protected.
In September 2014, a knife-carrying man jumped a fence and ran into the White House itself in one of the worst security breaches during Obama's tenure.
That episode led to the resignation of the U.S. Secret Service director.
In March 2015, two Secret Service agents capped off a night of drinking by driving into a White House barricade inches away from a suspicious package that investigators were examining as a possible bomb.
In 2011, a man hit the White House with automatic rifle fire, though damage to the building was not discovered for several days.
(Reporting by Megan Cassalla, Jeff Mason and Eric Walsh in Washington; additional reporting by Joseph Ax and Gina Cherelus in New York and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Tom Brown)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
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Updated Date: May 21, 2016 03:00:08 IST