Gunfire broke out at around 2am outside the embassy in northwest Washington. Metropolitan Police Department officers were called to the scene after neighbours reported hearing at least 30 gunshots.
Officers found a man with an assault rifle at the scene and took the person into custody without incident. Investigators say they believe he had been deliberately shooting towards the embassy, though a motive remains unclear.
ABC affiliate WJLA reports police as saying the man had arrived at the embassy in an SUV with Texas licence plates and an American flag on the roof of his vehicle. Photos from the scene show investigators searching through the SUV, which was parked nearby. Witnesses also claim the man was wrapped in a flag.
The suspect, whose name was not immediately released, was arrested on charges of possessing an unregistered firearm and ammunition, assault with intent to kill and possessing a high-capacity magazine, a US Secret Service spokeswoman said.
No injuries were reported.
Photos posted on the embassy’s Twitter account show large holes left in the building’s facade near the front door and in pillars outside the building.
The Cuban government doesn’t know the suspect’s identity or potential motives, the statement said, adding that the US State Department was also aware of the incident.
“It is the obligation of states to adopt appropriate steps to protect the premises of diplomatic missions accredited to their country against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity,” the statement said.
Other images showed investigators surveying the damage in front of the ornate embassy in Washington’s Adams-Morgan neighborhood, including a bullet hole in a window over the front door and damage to a flagpole and a column flanking a statue of Cuban independence hero José Martí.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department and the Secret Service are investigating.
With reporting from The Associated Press
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