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White House gunman arraigned today

Federal officials on Sunday charged Francisco Martin Duran with two felony counts for riddling the White House with rifle fire, but after considerable debate declined to charge him with trying to assassinate the president.

Duran, 26, of Security, Colo., is to be arraigned today before a federal magistrate in Washington on charges of violating laws that prohibit a convicted felon from possessing a weapon and willfully damaging government property. Each count carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Authorities said they had no plans to charge Duran with attempted assassination of the president, although that option remained open if new evidence emerges.

Authorities found a note in the man's pickup truck that indicated he expected to die in his bizarre assault. The note said nothing about trying to kill President Clinton or others at the White House, but explained how his possessions were to be distributed to his wife and son in the event of his death.

Also found in the Chevrolet truck, parked near the Ellipse, were some personal papers still being examined by the Secret Service and FBI for further clues to a possible motive.

Each of the shots Duran allegedly sprayed from the Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalk toward the north front of the White House on Saturday required a separate pull of the trigger of his Chinese-made SKS semiautomatic rifle, but witnesses said the entire incident lasted less than a minute or two before he was tackled by two tourists.

Secret Service officials defended the decision of the agents not to return the gunfire immediately.

"There were literally hundreds of people surrounding him," said Secret Service special agent Carl Meyer, referring to throngs of tourists on the balmy weekend afternoon. "This was a clear no-shoot situation."

White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, who rushed to his office window when he first heard the shots, said Sunday, "It's a miracle that nobody got hurt in that process, just a miracle." He said the review of White House security begun after a private plane hit the White House mansion Sept. 12 _ a day before Duran bought his gun _ will be broadened to incorporate the threat posed by potential gunfire from surrounding streets through White House gates. The review is not due to be completed until January.

Ron Noble, assistant secretary of the Treasury for enforcement, told reporters that "we are going to consider all measures necessary to ensure the safety of the president, the first family and the White House complex without intruding too seriously where possible on the rights of citizens to enjoy the public access that for years we have celebrated."

Clinton, who was in the residence at the time of the shooting resting from his trip to the Middle East, skipped his occasional jog Sunday and did not attend church. But he said through a White House spokesman that he had no plans to alter a busy schedule of campaign appearances outside Washington this week, and Sunday night he hosted a gala and attended a play at Ford's Theater, where President Abraham Lincoln was shot in 1865.

Authorities said Duran had refused any comment about the incident and declined even to give his name after being arrested. His demeanor has been "completely flat," Meyer said.

Duran was given a blood test to determine whether he had been intoxicated or on drugs, said officials. There was no immediate indication that he was under the influence of anything, but the tests had not been completed.

Duran was dishonorably discharged from the Army after 2{ years imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for pleading guilty to aggravated assault with a vehicle and drunken and disorderly conduct.

Duran's neighbors in the Colorado Springs suburb said they were unaware of his previous incarceration or dishonorable discharge and said he had exhibited no unusual or violent behavior in the year that he, his wife and son had lived there.

Duran's wife had reported him missing on Oct. 1, a day after he left his home telling her that he was going to get equipment for target practice.

Senior officials said on Sunday night that they still did not know where Duran had spent the past few weeks and were trying to reconstruct his whereabouts.

Noble said Duran had bought the Chinese-made Norinco SKS semiautomatic assault rifle used in the White House shooting on Sept. 13.

That same day, the president signed the $30-billion anti-crime bill, which imposed new restrictions on assault weapons. And a day earlier, on Sept. 12, a depressed and intoxicated pilot crashed his one-engine plane just below the president's window.

Officials speculated that either the crime bill or the plane crash could have inspired Duran, but because the few writings of his that they have found are ambiguous, investigators had not reached conclusions about his motives.