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Intruder Asked to See Clinton

May 26, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Before he was shot by the Secret Service, Tuesday night’s White House intruder asked to see President Clinton, an official said Thursday. Clinton himself expressed sympathy for troubled people trying ``to attach themselves″ to the symbol of the White House.

The man accused of scaling the White House fence carrying an unloaded gun mentioned Clinton several times after being confronted by officers, the official said.

Investigators do not consider his remarks a threat, but that could change as more evidence is gathered, said the official, who commented on condition of anonymity.

The president, meanwhile, said the quick arrest showed the security system worked well. ``It worked quickly, and it’s something that every citizen of this country can be very proud of,″ he said.

Leland William Modjeski, 37, of nearby Falls Church, Va., remained hospitalized in good condition, recovering from the gunshot wound he suffered when a Secret Service officer shot him. Another officer, hit by the same bullet, also was in good condition.

Clinton said he didn’t know why several people have chosen to strike out at the White House in the past several months.

``I just think that in a couple of cases we’ve had people who, for their own personal reasons, have seen this as a symbol of something that they could attach themselves to in some way or another,″ he said. ``A lot of the people out there may be like this gentleman, in trouble, and maybe can be brought back just by people reaching out to them and by trying to avoid letting things get to that point.″

Modjeski’s sister, Maurine Patton, said Thursday night in an interview in New Orleans that her brother had stopped taking Prozac, an anti-depressant drug, about three weeks ago.

The Secret Service has no plans to further tighten White House security because of the incident, spokesman Michael Tarr said. Access to the White House had gradually become more and more restricted over the past few months after a series of incidents.

In one case, a pilot died when he crashed a small plane on the White House’s South Lawn in September. A Colorado man pulled a rifle from under his trench coat and sprayed the front of the White House with bullets about a month later. In yet another incident, a homeless man with a knife was shot to death by U.S. Park Police outside the White House fence on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Modjeski was spotted near an area where Clinton had gotten out of a limousine a half-hour earlier, but investigators believe that was a coincidence, a law enforcement official said.

The weapon he carried was at least 50 years old, the official said.

Investigators are focusing on Modjeski’s history of mental problems and considering the possibility that he may have acted on a suicidal impulse.

Modjeski’s grandmother said he had been treated for clinical depression. ``He had been sick, we understand. I knew he was depressed,″ said the widow of Modjeski’s late grandfather, E. Leland Richardson. The grandmother, who lives in Baton Rouge, La., asked that her name not be published.

She said Modjeski had been separated from his wife for a while, and that may have contributed to his problems. But they had reunited, she said.

Modjeski’s brother, Robert, shot himself to death in 1986.

Modjeski, who remains under guard at the hospital, has been charged with assaulting the Secret Service officers and carrying a firearm across state lines with the intent to commit a felony. Each crime carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

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