White House Fence Jumper Makes It To Front Door Of White House

White House Intruder

Late yesterday afternoon, a man scaled the fence at the North Lawn of the White House and managed to get to the front door of the building before being caught by Secret Service agents:

A man climbed over the White House fence and raced across the lawn and through the north portico doors Friday night, apparently only minutes after President Obama went out the south entrance on his way to Camp David, authorities said.

The man, who was not armed, was arrested just inside the doors, Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said.

A Secret Service official said the location of the arrest “was not acceptable” to the service, and would be reviewed by the agency.

The official said that at least part of the reason that the man managed to get so far was that he did not appear to be armed or carrying anything. In addition, the official said, first family members were not inside.

The man was identified as Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Tex., Donovan said. Donovan said he was charged with unlawful entry into the White House complex. It was unclear why he had allegedly climbed the fence.

He was taken to a hospital for a medical evaluation.

The incident prompted a temporary evacuation of at least parts of the White House, and people were herded out of Lafayette Square, which is north of and just across the street from the building.

After climbing the fence, the man “pretty much landed on his feet and started sprinting,” said a witness, Philipos Melaku-Bello, who was part of a peace vigil. “He got a good run in.”

A flurry of shouts went up, calling on the man to halt, with some coming from officers posted on the roof, the witness said.

According to the White House schedule, Obama was expected to leave for the Maryland retreat at 7:05 p.m. The exact time the helicopter carrying him and his daughters lifted from the South Lawn was not known, but it was apparently only a few minutes before the intruder climbed the north fence. The man scaled the fence at 7:20 p.m., Donovan said.

It’s not entirely uncommon for someone to either jump the White House fence or attempt to do so. Typically, those incidents are handled rather quickly by Secret Service and the person in question is taken into custody long before they get anywhere near the White House complex itself. The fact that this guy was quite literally able to get to the front door of the White House before being detained is pretty unusual, and raises some rather obvious security concerns. Perhaps the fact that it happened at nearly the same time that Marine One was leaving from the South Lawn gave this guy a window of opportunity due to agents being prioritized toward that. Even so, this one was a little too close for comfort even if the President and First Family weren’t around. Hopefully, the Secret Service will conduct a thorough review to figure out why and how this happened.

Video capture via BBC News

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. stonetools says:

    Note that, unlike Michael Brown, he was taken in custody without being shot six times-twice in the head.
    Does put a different perspective on of Officer Scott Wilson’s percieved need to kill Brown, doesn’t it?
    Wilson is still at large and the grand jury has until the new year to indict him.

  2. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The fact that this guy was quite literally able to get to the front door of the White House before being detained is pretty unusual, and raises some rather obvious security concerns.

    No.

    The official said that at least part of the reason that the man managed to get so far was that he did not appear to be armed or carrying anything. In addition, the official said, first family members were not inside.

    A flurry of shouts went up, calling on the man to halt, with some coming from officers posted on the roof, the witness said.

    He would have been dead if he had been seen as a threat.

  3. Tyrell says:

    @stonetools: This man evidently responded to the orders of the Secret Service. He did not challenge, argue, confront, tussle, or threaten.

  4. anjin-san says:

    This is pretty troubling. The ongoing issues with the Secret Service certainly do not inspire confidence.

  5. anjin-san says:

    @ pj

    A flurry of shouts went up, calling on the man to halt

    Well there is some state of the art security.

  6. Moosebreath says:

    @Tyrell:

    “This man evidently responded to the orders of the Secret Service.”

    Except for the ones to halt?

  7. @PJ:

    Every other time there’s been a fence jumper, they have been able to capture him or her long before they got near the White House. And none of those people were armed either.

  8. Grewgills says:

    Why is the Whitehouse covering up what really happened? This is obviously due to Obama’s feckless and tyrannical leadership. Issa needs to get on this ASAP.

  9. Jeremy R says:

    https://twitter.com/markknoller/status/513440985385541632

    Charges against WH fence jumper include assault on police officer, unlawful entry, carrying dangerous weapon, unregistered ammunition.

    https://twitter.com/markknoller/status/513450166993440768

    Secret Service Director orders beefed up patrols and surveillance along Pennsylvania Ave fence line at White House – site of fence jumping.

    https://twitter.com/markknoller/status/513451085898321920

    Statement says Secret Service will evaluate “all operational policies and security procedures” during the review process.

  10. JohnMcC says:

    Late to the show as always, I can add that from news reports Sunday morning it appears that WH security got new guidelines on when to shoot after a woman rammed a vehicle gate and was killed and a baby in a car seat was found in the car afterwards. And that Mr Gonzales apparently served three tours in Iraq. Good for them for hollering instead of shooting.

  11. Tyrell says:

    Can’t secure the White House fence ? No wonder people are streaming over the borders like it is Christmas shopping at the mall.