Survivor of El Paso shooting arrested at White House, allegedly lied about heroism

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Justin Chan
·3 min read
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A man who survived last month's El Paso shooting was arrested at the White House on Monday, and, now, police are questioning the heroic story he shared in a CNN interview. 

Christopher Grant was detained just moments before he was set to be honored in a White House ceremony that recognized the bravery of a select few who responded to the El Paso and Dayton shootings, Time reports. The U.S. Secret Service (USSS) confirmed to the publication that it had taken in a White House visitor who had a warrant for his arrest but refused to name the person. 

"It was subsequently determined that while the arrest warrant was still active, the agency that issued the warrant would not extradite, at which time the individual was released from Secret Service custody," a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.

Washington D.C. police, however, identified the individual as Grant, and Sgt. Enrique Carrillo, a spokesperson for the El Paso Police Department (EPPD), added that the man had had a warrant for his arrest and was a “fugitive from justice." That warrant did not come from the EPPD itself, according to Time. 

In the days following the El Paso shooting on August 3 that left 22 dead, Grant received national attention after he told CNN's Chris Cuomo that he had distracted the gunman by throwing bottles at him. Grant, who spoke from his hospital bed at the time, said he was in the produce department of a Walmart when he saw the shooter — a 21-year-old white male from Allen, Texas — standing in the parking lot and opening fire at shoppers. 

"I was like, 'This is crazy,'" he recalled. "So to deter him, I started throwing random bottles at him." 

Grant said he was shot in the process and was later saved by an officer from U.S. Customs & Border Protection. 

"When I got hit, it was like somebody putting a hand grenade in your back and pulled the pin," he said. "That's basically what it felt like."

Yet, on Monday, the EPPD seemed to question Grant's account, following review of the surveillance footage that was taken the day of the mass shooting. 

"Mr. Grant’s actions were captured on video, but they do not reflect his account to the media outlet [CNN]," Carrillo said. "It contradicts his statements, in fact… [H]e did not take any action towards the shooter."

Carrillo added that video showed Grant acting in “a manner of self-preservation, as best as I can describe it, and nothing else."

Time notes that the USSS and EPPD did not have prior contact regarding Grant and that his arrest was most likely not related to the potentially false statements he made on CNN. Still, President Trump honored him, along with four other heroic El Pasoans and six police officers who responded to the Dayton shooting, this week. 

"Chris grabbed — listen to this — soda bottles and anything else in front of him and began hurling them at the gunman distracting him from the other shoppers and causing the shooters to turn towards Chris and fire at Chris," Trump said at the ceremony. "Whereby Chris suffered two very serious gunshot wounds, but he is recovering well and we wish him the best, his family is here."

Because of Grant's brief detainment, his mother stood in for him to accept a certificate of Heroic Commendation.