Peoples and Nations

Robert Pickett: Firing Shots on GW Bush

Robert Pickett: Firing Shots on GW Bush

The following article on Robert Pickett is an excerpt from Mel Ayton's Hunting the President: Threats, Plots, and Assassination Attempts-From FDR to Obama.


George W. Bush was subjected to several very serious threats to his life. Robert Pickett was an accountant with the Internal Revenue Service who had been fired from his job in 1988 because of incompetence and poor work attendance. But Pickett believed he was dismissed because he reported a colleague who had been “violating regulations.” He spent years trying to get reinstated to his job. On February 7, 2001, two weeks after the first inauguration of President Bush, Pickett, still simmering over the firing, visited the White House armed with a five-shot Taurus .38 caliber special revolver.

Pickett fired some errant shots in the general direction of the executive mansion. A nearby police patrol car immediately pulled up, and an officer engaged Pickett. A standoff ensued, with Pickett alternately threatening to shoot himself and others. After ten minutes, Pickett was shot in the knee by a Secret Service agent and taken to the hospital. President Bush, who was exercising in the residence area of the White House at the time, was never in danger.

Pickett was originally charged with discharging a firearm during a crime, which, if he had been found guilty, would have brought a ten-year mandatory sentence. But Pickett made a plea agreement and entered a guilty plea to a local firearms violation and an “Alford plea” (acknowledging there was enough evidence to convict him but not admitting he was entirely guilty) to assaulting a federal officer. In July 2001, Pickett was sentenced to three years at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, followed by three years of probation. He was released on September 19, 2003.