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Federal Charges Brought Against White House GunmanAired February 9, 2001 - 2:01 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: First to U.S. District Court in Washington, where federal charges have just been filed against Robert Pickett, the man authorities say fired shots outside the White House earlier this week. Pickett is still in a Washington hospital recovering from a gunshot wound. On Wednesday Pickett was arrested south of the White House grounds after a standoff with Secret Service officers.
Our justice correspondent Kelli Arena is standing by now with more on the charges he faces today.
Kelli, good afternoon.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Stephen.
Well, Robert Pickett is facing the federal charge of resisting a federal officer with a weapon. That charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. We did receive an affidavit today which is the clearest picture of what exactly happened at the White House that day, and I'll be referring to that affidavit.
It does say that Mr. Pickett was carrying a loaded .38-caliber revolver; that Secret Service agents became aware of the armed suspect, they sent uniformed officers to the area. One of the officers witnessed a shot fired. It says later ballistic investigation showed that there were actually two shots discharged from his gun. The uniformed officers ordered Pickett to drop his weapon, but he refused to comply with their orders.
Pickett then pointed his weapon at uniformed officers from the emergency response team. Those officers, again, from Secret Service, were located in the bushes. When that gun was pointed at Secret Service agents, one of those agents from the emergency response team actually heard the gun click. In concern out of safety for himself, for his officers, for other people in the area, he fired his weapon. As we know, Pickett was shot in the knee, wounded, brought to the hospital where he remains right now.
So this really is the clearest account of what happened that day, what prompted that Secret Service agent to shoot. Apparently, it was the fact that he did hear that gun click one more time and was concerned for the safety of himself and others around him -- Stephen?
FRAZIER: So, Kelli, that affidavit isn't just the clearest picture, it has new details -- this click meaning actually that Robert Pickett, we presume, attempted to fire his weapon at a Secret Service agent?
ARENA: That's right, we did -- he was pointing it and it clicked. And as you know, the suspicion here has been building that this may have been a suicide-by-cop mission, which basically means that Mr. Pickett did have suicidal tendencies; that, perhaps he was trying to provoke law enforcement agents to shoot at him. You know that we have learned from several sources that there was a will left on his kitchen table, and at his office that there was a suicide note found in his vehicle; that was impounded here by metro police. And we do know that he sent a letter to various newspapers and to the president and to his congressman suggesting that this -- he might not be leaving Washington alive.
So there is speculation that that may have been the intent; intent is very important in this case. Whether or not he intended to cause harm to any of those Secret Service agents or to the president or to anyone else around him, that is not clear. But according to this very pointed count, that gun was pointed and the click was heard -- and loaded.
So the charges he faces right now are resisting a federal officer with a deadly weapon -- Stephen.
FRAZIER: Kelli, thank you; our justice correspondent Kelli Arena this afternoon.
ARENA: You're welcome.
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