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3 dead after lightning strike near White House

Emergency personnel respond after an apparent lightning strike at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., on Thursday evening.

WASHINGTON — Three people have died and a fourth remains in critical condition after a lightning strike across the street from the White House on Thursday night, the Metropolitan Police Department said Friday evening.

Police on Friday morning identified two of the people who died: James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, both of Janesville, Wis. Later, the department said it was notified that a third victim had died: a 29-year-old man whose name is being withheld pending family notification.

An adult woman is still in critical condition, an MPD 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 men and two adult women — were transported to hospitals in critical condition, Maggiolo said.

Emergency personnel respond after an apparent lightning strike at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., on Thursday evening.@dcfireems via Twitter

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.

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.

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