Washington Post

Incident Outside White House

By Linda Wheeler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 18, 1998; Page B02

A man standing on the sidewalk in front of the White House cut his neck with a screwdriver while President Clinton was inside giving televised testimony to a grand jury yesterday afternoon, a U.S. Park Police spokesman said.

As the 26-year-old repeatedly drew the screwdriver across the left side of his neck, Park Police officers approached the man and ordered him to drop what they initially thought was a knife, Sgt. Dave Mulholland said. The man did as ordered, and police surrounded him and held him until a D.C. ambulance arrived, Mulholland said.

Mulholland said that the man, who he said was "dressed like an average tourist," tried to say something to the officers but that his English was so heavily accented, he could not be understood.

At the time of the incident, the closed block of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW was filled with members of the media there to cover the story of Clinton's testimony. Demonstrators and curious onlookers were among the crowd.

Mulholland said that he did not know whether the man drew attention to himself before he began to cut his neck but that photographers and reporters surrounded the man as police tried to disarm him.

"I heard someone yell, 'Go live,' " Mulholland said.

Washington Post staff photographer Michael Williamson, who took pictures of the incident, said he heard the man say, "Iraq," and "something about killing himself."

Mulholland said police would not release the man's name or his home address because he was a victim.

The man was taken to D.C. General Hospital, where spokeswoman Donna Lewis-Johnson said that his medical condition was stable and that the wound was superficial.
She said the man was referred to the D.C. Department of Public Health's psychiatric unit for evaluation.

[Vigil Note: ET was greeted by two Iraqi men after the incident, who had stood nearby and witnessed the whole thing. They said the man was saying "I'm going to kill myself if people don't care more about Iraq."]