President Trump had to be evacuated from a press conference after shooting near the White House. Secret Service guards shot and wounded an apparently armed person outside the scene, the US president said shortly after being briefly evacuated during a press conference.
"The law enforcement officers shot someone, it seems to be the suspect. And the suspect is on his way to the hospital," said the president.
Hours later, the Secret Service, an elite unit of the police charged with protecting the highest American officials, described what happened on Twitter.
A 51-year-old man approached a Secret Service agent at the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, one block from the White House. The suspect told police he had a gun and ran "aggressively" toward him, pulling an object from his clothing.
He then went into a "shooter position", as if he were going to open fire, and the officer fired a bullet into his torso.
Members of the Secret Service present at the scene administered first aid to the suspect, and he and the agent who shot him were taken to hospital.
Trump was giving his regular press conference Monday afternoon when he was approached by a member of the Secret Service in charge of his security.
"Excuse me?" Trump said, before the agent whispered something in his ear and they both quietly left the room.
Minutes later, Trump reappeared in the press room, where the journalists had been confined, and announced that someone had been shot outside the government headquarters.
Trump said he did not know anything about the identity or motives of the person shot, but when asked if the person was armed, he replied: "From what I understand, the answer is yes."
Outside the White House, the situation was quiet, but a portion of the surrounding streets was blocked, with several police and other official vehicles converging on the corner where the shooting occurred.
- "Screams" and "one shot" -
Philipos Melaku, an activist who camped outside the White House for years, said he heard a gunshot at around 5:50 PM (9:50 PM GMT).
"I heard a shot and before that I heard screams," he told AFP.
"It was a male voice," he added. "After that, immediately, pointing their AR-15s, at least eight or nine men ran in."
Following the security operation, Trump almost immediately returned to the White House podium where he resumed his press conference as scheduled.
When asked if he was upset by the incident, he replied, "I don't know, do I seem upset?"
"It is unfortunate that this is the world, but the world has always been a dangerous place," he added.
Trump praised the Secret Service as "fantastic people, the best of the best."
"I feel very safe with the Secret Service," he said, emphasizing that many "great-looking agents are ready" to do whatever it takes.
Trump then resumed his press conference focused on the pandemic and the US economy.