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