WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump was abruptly removed from the briefing room on Monday during a press conference with reporters because of a shooting about a block away from the White House.
The president was in the middle of his opening statement when an aide who appeared to be a member of the Secret Service came to his side and escorted him off the podium. Trump returned to the room after a few moments and reported that there had been a shooting outside the White House.
“It was law enforcement shot someone, it seems to be the suspect. And the suspect is now on the way to the hospital,” Trump said.
Secret Service shot the suspect outside the fence, near the White House, he said. Washington, D.C., officials said that first responders took a man with a gunshot wound to an area hospital. The person was in serious, if not critical, condition.
The U.S. Secret Service said one of its officers was also transported to a hospital.
“You were surprised, I was surprised also,” Trump said.
Trump, who said he was taken to the Oval Office during the incident, said he wasn’t aware of the reason for the shooting, which took place on 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
“It might not have had anything to do with me,” Trump said. “It might have been something else.”
Asked if he was rattled by the experience, Trump responded: “Do I seem rattled?”
Lock downs at the White House are relatively common and can happen for nearby shooters, breaches of the White House perimeter and even bags abandoned nearby. But it is rare for lockdowns to occur when the president is on stage and extremely rare for the president to be removed by Secret Service in the middle of remarks.
The last high-profile lock down took place in May because of protesters outside the White House, demonstrating over the death of George Floyd.
Reporters inside the White House indicated the building was on lock down shortly after the shooting. Trump professed little worry about his own safety.
“The world has always been a dangerous place,” Trump said. “That’s not something that’s unique.”
The president returned to the briefing room minutes later and, after fielding several questions about the shooting, returned to his prepared remarks.
“So I was telling you that the Dow Jones and the SP 500 are now 50% above the March level,” he said.
“Spent twelve years in the Secret Service and I’ve never seen that before,” tweeted Dan Bongino, a Republican commentator and former Secret Service agent.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson, Kristine Phillips