1994 White House shooting: Bystander Robert Haines recalls tackling gunman

12:46 PM, Nov 6, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) --  WUSA9's Delia Goncalves takes a look back at the 1994 White House shooting and why one man was left out of the history books.

October 29th, 1994, it was a crisp autumn afternoon.  Ken Davis of Maryland missed his White House tour but kept his home camera rolling when suddenly a man dressed in a trench coast pulled out a semi-automatic weapon and started shooting.

Panicked people ran for their lives, as the gunman fired off up to 30 rounds. When he stopped to reload, a couple of bystanders jumped in and tackled the gunman to the ground.

Harry Rakowski of San Antonio was one of them: "I thought he was going to shoot me."

Robert Haines of Washington State was the other man.  He told us, "I jumped on his chest...grabbed the rifle and tried to pull it out from underneath him."

You can see Haines chase down the suspect, his white cowboy hat flying, as a baby carriage drifts off and hits a curb. The baby inside was his now 20-year-old son.

"I couldn't get to him first because I had the baby carriage and the concrete barrier. A man on my right hand side came right on front of me," said Haines.

But Haines' role was diminished in a White House briefing and in various TV accounts.

President Clinton then invited two of the gentlemen to thank them, but Haines was not invited.  Haines said it wasn't fair. "It was politics," said Haines.

Politics because Robert Haines has been a long shot presidential candidate for decades. He was, in fact, campaigning that fateful day in 1994 and continues now. Even though his chances may not be realistic his spot in history and service remains true to this day.

Thankfully no one, including President Bill Clinton, was injured. That portion of Pennsylvania Avenue is now blocked to traffic and heavily patrolled. The gunman, 26-year-old Francisco Duran of Colorado, was sentenced to 40 years behind bars.

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