The FBI says a fatal shooting on the White House sidewalk began with the knife-wielding victim chasing a U.S. Park Police officer and defying shouted orders to stop.

Marcelino Corniel "refused to drop the knife and refused to lie on the ground," the FBI said in an affidavit that accompanied a charge of assault on a federal officer filed Wednesday against Corniel.Corniel, 33, a homeless man who had been living in Lafayette Square, the park across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, died Wednesday night at George Washington University Hospital. He was shot once in the abdomen and once in his right leg and underwent two lengthy surgeries.

White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers said the administration was saddened by the death. She said the incident "underscores the nature of violence in our society and that nobody's immune."

Without saying whether the shooting was appropriate, Myers also said the incident "underscores the difficult jobs law enforcement officers face every day and the difficult decisions they must make."

The FBI account gave no clue what had prompted Corniel to go after park police officer Stephen J. O'Neill. It said O'Neill, who knew the homeless man, had seen him at 6:30 a.m., sitting on some blankets with four cups of McDonald's coffee.

"O'Neill acknowledged Corniel and continued to make his rounds through Lafayette Park," said the affidavit.

At about 9 a.m. O'Neill began walking a foot patrol on the Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalk directly in front of the White House and noticed Corniel running toward him from the park, holding a large knife in his left hand.

"O'Neill ordered Corniel to stop and then ran to the east" with Corniel in close pursuit toward uniformed Secret Service officers, calling on his radio for help.

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"At that point, Corniel stopped and he was confronted by O'Neill and the other officers, who ordered him to drop the knife and then ordered him to lie on the ground," the affidavit said. When Corniel didn't, he was shot.

The park police declined to identify the officer who shot Corniel. A spokesman said the police communications department "got a few threats against his life." The policeman has been assigned to administrative duties.

In California, Newport Beach attorney Milton Grimes, who at one time represented police beating victim Rodney King, accused the officers of using excessive force in shooting Corniel and said he intends to investigate the death on behalf of the man's family.

More of Corniel's background came to light Wednesday. He was charged in 1984 in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Compton, Calif., with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon - a knife - and with intent to inflict bodily injury.

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