Man who jumped White House fence killed at Pa. courthouse after slashing deputy

By JUSTINE MCDANIEL AND MICHAELLE BOND | The Philadelphia Inquirer | Published: August 25, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (Tribune News Service) — The Coatesville, Pa., man arrested in March for climbing over a White House wall was shot and killed by a deputy sheriff at the Chester County courthouse Tuesday after he came in wielding a knife and slashed another deputy sheriff, police said.

Curtis Smith, 34, of Coatesville walked into the courthouse on Market Street in West Chester, Pa., around 11 a.m., pulled out a knife in the lobby and slashed a deputy sheriff in his hand and arm, police said.

Another deputy sheriff then shot Smith.

Smith was taken to Paoli Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said. The deputy sheriff has been hospitalized and is listed in stable condition.

The courthouse went into lockdown for about two hours and will be closed the rest of the day. Courthouse employees said they were released via a back exit.

“The sheriffs did their jobs,” Tom Hogan, Chester County district attorney, said Tuesday afternoon. “The lockdown went perfectly.”

Sarah Finnaren, of West Chester, was inside the courthouse visiting former co-workers during the lockdown. She wears a hearing aid and thought she heard breaking glass.

The people around her knew they heard gunshots and locked the doors to Suite 1307, a district court office.

She and the employees with her saw police and emergency medical services personnel arriving. They called a business across the street and asked workers there for information.

Finnaren called the ordeal “scary.”

“I’m still trying to calm down,” she said, a few hours after the shooting.

Carly Scott, a server at the Lunchbox Cafe, across the street from the courthouse, said the restaurant’s owner heard two or three gunshots while he was outside loading food in his car around 11. He went inside and told Scott and the other workers.

“I was like, ‘Are you serious?’” Scott, 19, said.

She looked out the restaurant’s windows and saw about 10 police cars blocking off Market Street in each direction, she said.

Then, she saw two people being wheeled out on stretchers, one of whom was sitting up and appeared to be wearing a blue police shirt, she said.

Michele Hoban, 19, a sophomore at West Chester University, was walking home from class with two friends. They live above the Lunchbox Cafe and got a text from their roommate at home.

They thought their roommate was joking until they saw the police activity for themselves.

“I thought it was such a safe area,” Hoban said.

Four police officers stood at the doors of the courthouse Tuesday afternoon.

Smith was arrested March 1 by the Secret Service after he allegedly climbed over a stone wall at the White House at a vehicle entry point and began walking across the grounds.

Smith told officers he had driven to the White House to deliver a message to the president, according to the charging papers. He was charged with unlawful entry, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.

He was ordered to stay away from the White House complex.


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