WASHINGTON — Two people have died and two others are in critical condition after a lightning strike across the street from the White House Thursday night, the Metropolitan Police Department said Friday.
A police department spokesperson identified the deceased as James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, both of Janesville, Wis.
Two additional victims remain in critical condition, the spokesperson said.
In a statement Friday morning, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “We are saddened by the tragic loss of life after the lightning strike in Lafayette Park. Our hearts are with the families who lost loved ones, and we are praying for those still fighting for their lives.”
A spokesperson for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, Vito Maggiolo, said Thursday night that agency personnel found the victims with “critical, life threatening” injuries in Lafayette Square shortly before 7 p.m. ET.
The four individuals — two adult males and two adult females — were transported to area hospitals in critical condition, Maggiolo said.
Uniformed Secret Service and and U.S. Park Police officers had witnessed the lightning strike and began treating the victims before the arrival of fire and emergency medical personnel, Maggiolo said.
He added that it wasn’t clear if the individuals were related.
NBC News has reached out to the White House, National Park Service and Secret Service for comment.
Shortly before authorities responded to the incident, the National Weather Service had issued a “severe thunderstorm warning” cautioning that potential hail and wind gusts up to 60 mph could hit Washington, D.C.
Lafayette Square is north of the White House and frequented by tourists and protesters, as well as workers at nearby private and government buildings. The park was the site of a racial justice protest that was violently cleared by federal police officers in June 2020.
Rebecca Shabad is a politics reporter for NBC News based in Washington.
Zoë Richards is the evening politics reporter for NBC News.