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Secret Service agent shoots armed person outside White House

Posted on Friday, May 20, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Secret Service agents stand on the North Lawn of the White House on Friday after a nearby shooting.  The White House was placed on security alert. (Associated Press Photo)

A Secret Service agent stand on the White House lawn on Friday following the shooting. The White House was placed on security alert. (Associated Press Photo)

WASHINGTON — A uniformed Secret Service officer shot a person who drew a weapon just outside the White House Friday afternoon, a U.S. law enforcement official said Friday.

The shooting happened within view of sightseers outside the front of the building, near sidewalks crowded with families, school groups and government workers.

The White House was briefly placed on a security alert. President Barack Obama was not there — he was playing golf — but Vice President Joe Biden was in the White House complex and was secured during the lockdown, his office said.

The U.S. law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authorization to release the information, said the person approached the Secret Service officer and drew a weapon, and then the officer opened fire.

The Secret Service later tweeted that “all Secret Service protectees are safe.”

Separately, a White House official said no one associated with the White House was injured, and everyone inside the complex is safe and accounted for.

A single patient was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition shortly after 3 p.m., said Doug Buchanan, a spokesman for D.C. Fire and EMS.

Sightseer Jenna Noelle of Austin, Texas, said she had just taken a photo in front of the White House when she noticed a man harassing an agent. Then, “as we were walking away we heard a shot fired, then some people started running away and agents had guns and were evacuating people.”

“I had a panic attack,” she added. “I’m doing OK now, but it was pretty freaky to be right there a second before it happened. Not really the experience we wanted,” she added.

U.S. Park Police said on Twitter that the shooting happened on West Executive Drive — the street that runs perpendicular to Pennsylvania Avenue, between the White House and the Old Executive Office Building. The White House grounds were shut down to pedestrian traffic, locking staff members and reporters indoors, until the alert was suspended.

The Latest on the shooting outside the White House (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

First Lady Michelle Obama was wrapping up a speech in downtown Washington at midday Friday. The shooting happened shortly before 3 p.m.

Her office would not say whether she, or the Obama daughters, were at the White House at the time.

The White House was placed on a security alert for about an hour. President Barack Obama was not there — he was playing golf — but Vice President Joe Biden’s office says he was in the White House complex and was secured during the lockdown.

The Secret Service announced that everyone it protects is safe and accounted for.

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4:45 p.m.

The shooting outside the White House Friday happened within view of sightseers, as the surrounding sidewalks were crowded with families, school groups and government workers.

Community activist Akil Patterson heard a single gunshot while he waited in a security line. Within seconds, a security guard shouted for people to drop to the ground, and he was quickly evacuated to the street.

Patterson was at the White House to get a presidential award for his work with Baltimore teens.

He says his community work aims to “get rid of the notion that gun violence is the answer.”

Sightseer Jenna Noelle of Austin, Texas, said she had just taken a photo in front of the White House when she noticed a man harassing an agent. Then, “as we were walking away we heard a shot fired, then some people started running away and agents had guns and were evacuating people.”

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4:20 p.m.

The Secret Service has tweeted to say that “all Secret Service protectees are safe” after a shooting outside the White House.

Separately, a White House official says no one in the building or associated with the White House was injured, and everyone inside is safe and accounted for.

This official said President Obama was made aware of the shooting. Obama left the White House more than an hour earlier and was golfing at Andrews Air Force base at the time.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity given the developing situation.

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3:50 p.m.

The White House has been placed on a security alert after a shooting on a street outside.

U.S. Park Police said on Twitter that the shooting happened on West Executive Drive on Friday afternoon.

District of Columbia Fire and EMS spokesman Doug Buchanan says one patient was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition shortly after 3 p.m.

A D.C. police spokesman said the Secret Service was investigating.

The White House grounds were shut down to pedestrian traffic, locking staff members and reporters indoors. The president was not on premises. He’d left two hours earlier for an afternoon round of golf.

—By BEN NUCKOLS, Associated Press; Associated Press writer Kathleen Hennessey in Washington contributed to this report.

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