Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gunman May Face Assassination Charge

WASHINGTON -- A note scrawled on a map and statements by a former co-worker have led investigators to believe that Francisco Martin Duran, the Colorado man accused of spraying bullets at the White House, may have come to Washington to try to assassinate President Bill Clinton, according to federal sources.


As a result of the new evidence, federal prosecutors are considering a new and more serious charge of attempted assassination of the president, the sources said. If filed, the charge would be in addition to the four felony charges he already faces in federal court.


Until the new evidence surfaced, investigators had been reluctant to attribute a motive to Duran, who fired 20 to 30 rounds from a Chinese assault rifle at the White House on Saturday afternoon. Clinton was in the White House private residence watching a football game at the time and was never at risk.


The note, scrawled on a map found inside Duran's pickup truck, appeared to say "Kill the president," but the last word was unclear and may not be a reference to the president, a source close to the case said.


It was the second note to surface from Duran's truck. Federal sources Sunday described the first one as a "semi-suicide" letter that did not contain specific threats toward Clinton.


The other new evidence Tuesday came from statements by David Millis, 20, who once worked with Duran at the Broadmoor resort hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Millis said in a paid television interview that he heard Duran say he planned to shoot the president.


Duran said he wanted "to take out the president," Millis said in the interview. Millis added that he had volunteered the information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation after Saturday's incident.


Also Tuesday, Eric Holder, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, designated the FBI as the lead agency in the case. The move is significant because the FBI has jurisdiction in such matters only if they involve an attempted assassination. Otherwise, the Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting the president, would be the investigating agency.


Duran was charged Monday with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, destruction of government property, resisting a federal officer while armed and unlawful use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. If convicted on these charges, he could face a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines. An attempted assassination of the president carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.


A Clinton administration official said he believes the exact charges may matter little in the end because Duran appears to have mental problems and could be judged incompetent to stand trial. If so, he would be committed to a mental institution.


A federal judge has ordered Duran to undergo a mental evaluation to determine his competency. But the defendant refused to proceed with the evaluation Tuesday after his attorney began filing motions trying to stop it.