2001 White House shooting

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The 2001 White House shooting was an incident at the perimeter fence of the South Lawn of the White House, on February 7, 2001, two weeks after the first inauguration of George W. Bush. Robert W. Pickett, a disgruntled Internal Revenue Service ex-employee from Indiana, fired a handgun and was shot by Secret Service agents after a 10-minute standoff.

Robert W. Pickett, an Evansville, Indiana accountant who was described as 47 years old at the time of the shooting, briefly attended West Point, and had been employed by the IRS but had left under pressure in the 1980s and in 2001 was still in litigation with the IRS over his job. He had also sued his union, the National Treasury Employees Union, and his IRS boss.[1] Pickett had a history of mental illness, including six hospitalizations and two suicide attempts, but no criminal record.[1][2][3] In 2000, he bought a handgun in Evansville after an instant background check.[4] On January 19, 2001, the federal court had given Pickett 30 days to show why his remaining lawsuit should not be dismissed.[1]

Just before 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time on February 7, 2001, Pickett was near the White House South Lawn and fired shots in the general direction of the White House itself. A patrol car pulled up and talked to Pickett while the Secret Service evacuated some tourists from the White House and the adjacent area. During a 10-minute standoff, he was shot in the knee by a Secret Service Emergency Response Team officers when, according to official statements, Pickett refused to drop the .38 caliber handgun, instead waving it in various directions and putting it in his mouth.[1][3][4]

After the shooting, Pickett was originally charged with discharging a firearm during a crime, which would have attracted a 10-year mandatory sentence. As the result of a plea agreement, Pickett instead entered a guilty plea to a local firearms violation and an Alford plea to assaulting a federal officer. In July 2001, Pickett, then 48 years old, was sentenced to 3 years at the Federal Medical Center, Rochester, followed by 3 years of probation.[3] Pickett was released on September 19, 2003.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Sanger, David E. (2001-02-08). "Officer Shoots Armed Man Near White House Fence". New York Times. 2001-02-09 correction. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  2. ^ Hoffman, Lisa; Perry, Kimball; Gay, Lance (2001-02-08). "Suspect Struggled With Mental Illness". Albany Times Union (Albany, New York). Scripps Howard. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  3. ^ a b c "White House shooter sentenced". CNN.com. 2001-07-31. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  4. ^ a b "Man Bought Gun Despite Check". Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida). 2001-02-09. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  5. ^ "Inmate Locator". Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 

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