Man fatally shoots himself in front of White House

VIDEO: REUTERS
VIDEO: REUTERS
US Secret Service officers inspect a car reportedly belonging to the man who shot himself.
US Secret Service officers inspect a car reportedly belonging to the man who shot himself.PHOTO: AFP
FBI officers are seen outside the White House as several blocks are closed down by the US Secret Service.
FBI officers are seen outside the White House as several blocks are closed down by the US Secret Service.PHOTO: AFP
Tourists outside the White House in Washington, March 2, 2018.
Tourists outside the White House in Washington, March 2, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A man fatally shot himself on the crowded pedestrian avenue directly in front of the White House on Saturday (March 3), officials said.

“Adult male has been declared deceased,” the Washington, DC Police Department said on Twitter.

The Secret Service said a white male approached the fence north of the White House at about 11.46am (12.46am on Sunday, Singapore time), “removed a concealed handgun and fired several rounds, none of which appear at this time to have been directed towards the White House.”

The man’s identity is being withheld pending notification of his kin, the Secret Service said in a statement.

While as many as 100 people – mostly tourists – were on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House at the time, no one else was reported hurt, the Secret Service said.

Police and medical personnel quickly swarmed the area, and the White House was placed on lockdown.

The area north of the White House was cleared and cordoned off.

Police also draped yellow crime-scene tape along a full block of nearby K Street, where authorities were searching a parked car.

At the time, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The President was set to return to Washington later on Saturday to attend the annual Gridiron Club media dinner.

“We are aware of the incident,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said. “The President has been briefed.”

Local police will lead an investigation of the shooting, with support from the Secret Service and other agencies, the Secret Service said.

Reporters in the White House briefing room first tweeted about the shooting, saying they had been told to shelter in place.

Disturbances outside the White House are not rare. On Feb 23, a woman was arrested after crashing her vehicle into a security barrier near the presidential residence.

And there have been repeated attempts to jump over fences around the building.