Secret Service agents in Washington, D.C., arrested an armed man in Lafayette Park across from the White House on July 16. The man, Christopher Wade Briggs of San Antonio, Texas, reportedly took a loaded handgun out of a backpack. Briggs also had two additional magazines of ammunition, over 170 more rounds of ammo, and two hunting knives.
According to court documents, Brigg told officers “I was only going to fire a couple of shots if no one confronted me.” Officers charged him with carrying a pistol without a license, two counts of possession of prohibited weapons, and other related charges.
Briggs is a computer programmer who gravitated to right-wing causes and developed an antagonism towards Barack Obama, as expressed in a number of on-line postings. These include a post on one Web site made earlier in 2013, in which he claimed to believe, “with all my heart, God has a plan for all the elected or appointed leaders, even Obama and Hitler.”
Briggs operated a Twitter feed and, briefly, a small Web site, both dubbed Your Freedom News. The Web site generally featured articles from a far right-wing position. One article on the Web site (presumably by Briggs) claimed that every day the author woke up to see “some government official…subverting the Constitution of These United States” and asserted that the POTUS (President of the United States) “is purposely trying to destroy this country.” In another article posted by Briggs but written by a relative named Walter Briggs with the title “Let the Caissons Roll!”, Walter Briggs asserted that Obama wanted to make it a criminal offense in the United States to be a Christian.
On July 14, Briggs posted a photograph to his Facebook profile of himself standing next to a life-size replica of Barack Obama (such as one might find at a wax museum), with a fist raised as if to strike the President. When his mother expressed surprise at the photograph, Briggs responded, “Can I not take a vacation?” On Tuesday, July 16, the day Briggs would be arrested, he posted another photograph of himself, this time standing with a backpack in front of the White House. A Facebook friend asked Brigg if he were allowed there after “that last felony conviction,” but Briggs did not reply.
At some time before 5:00pm, Briggs made a last post to his Facebook profile, addressed to the “news media,” calling on them to leave his friends and family alone. In an apparent reference to what was to come, Briggs stated that “[I] do this neither as a left winger or a right winger” and that he just could not live with himself any more. He urged people to “come together as a nation and solve the issues” and “do what is best for this country.”