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D.C. GUNMAN PICKED TARGET WITH GRAY HAIR

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The Colorado man who opened fire at the White House six weeks ago believed he was shooting at President Clinton after having spotted a gray-haired man walking inside the compound, federal law-enforcement officials said on Wednesday.

The man, Dennis Basso, a 40-year-old furrier and designer from New York who somewhat resembles Clinton, had just emerged from the West Wing of the White House as part of a private tour, according to people familiar with the investigation.Basso and three other members of his party were thrown to the ground by Secret Service agents as Francisco M. Duran, a Colorado hotel worker, began firing with a semiautomatic assault rifle from where he was standing outside the White House fence, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Clinton was upstairs in a rear second-floor room watching college football on television that Saturday afternoon and was never in any danger. Although Duran has been charged with trying to assassinate the president, the Secret Service has not publicly disclosed any evidence that he actually believed he was shooting at the president.

The link between Basso's Oct. 29 visit to the White House and the shooting was first reported on Wednesday by The Daily News of New York. Federal officials who confirmed details of that account declined on Wednesday to say why they believed Duran thought he was shooting at Clinton.

Any evidence that Duran believed he had Clinton in his sights would undoubtedly strengthen the case against the Colorado Springs man, who was indicted by a federal grand jury last month on 11 felony charges.