Wednesday, December 21, 1994

Shooting Near White House:
Police have been sensitized
by three recent security scares.


The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Across Pennsylvania Avenue from the most famous address in the United States is a manicured park where the homeless and the dispossessed gather, along with those who are desperately anxious to be heard.

On Tuesday, one crossed the street with knife in hand. It was rush hour, is daylight.

Whatever Marcelino Corniel had in mind, his timing was lousy. The police agencies responsible for White House security have been sensitized by three recent security scares: an airplane crashing on the South lawn, a man who sprayed bullets against the mansion and a shooting only last Saturday.

Corniel was shot as U.S. Park Police officers contained him, guns drawn, in a semicircle. In a city where gunplay is a daily fact of life, it would have gone down as just another police incident were it not for the time and place.

Corniel had been living in Lafayette Park, which is dotted with ancient boxwoods, Southern magnolias and dozens of evergreens. Its benches invite contemplation; Bernard Baruch used to hold court on one. Stephen Decatur's house is along one side. Dolley Madison's house faces one corner. John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay and Lincoln's secretary of state, William H. Seward, lived along one side in a long-gone Boarding house.

In recent decades, the park has been an ideological battleground. During the Vietnam War it was the locus of constant protest. When the Six-Day War broke out in the Middle East in 1967, Jews gathered there to trade shouts with Arabs who were restricted to the sidewalk.


The Associated Press

ANAHEIM -- The homeless man shot by police in front of the White House on Tuesday was reported missing from his Anaheim residence by his relatives in August, police said.

A missing person report was filed on Marcelino Corniel, 33, on Aug. 26, said Sgt. Mike Hannah.

The relatives called police on Tuesday to say that Corniel was the same man who was critically wounded in a confrontation with police near the White House gate, Hannah said. Hannah said regulations did not permit him to release the names of Corniel's relatives.

When they filed the report, relatives said Corniel had been missing since Aug. 3.

Corniel was in critical condition Tuesday night at George Washington University Hospital. A spokeswoman said temporary repairs were made to his damaged liver and that more surgery might be necessary.

Meanwhile, court records show that a man with the same name and date of birth as the shooting victim has a long criminal record in the Los Angeles area, including convictions for armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.

The man listed in court and police records and the man shot by U.S. Park Police both were born on Aug. 17, 1961.

Court and Department of Corrections records show that a Marcelino Corniel was sentenced to five years in the California Institution for Men at Chino for a 1986 robbery.

He served three years before being paroled, records show.

He and another man, Aaron Earl Jones, 26, were accused of robbing three men in Culver City with a sawed-off shotgun on Jan. 23, 1986.