SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) The head of the U.S. Secret Service has ordered stepped-up security outside the White House after a man who jumped the fence armed with a knife made it all the way inside before being apprehended.
The Secret Service says Director Julia Pierson has ordered enhanced officer patrols and surveillance along the North Fence of the White House.
The measures took effect Friday evening after the incident, when 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez, of Copperas Cove, Texas, made his way into the North Portico – the grand, columned entrance that looks out over Pennsylvania Avenue – just minutes after President Barack Obama had departed for Camp David with his two daughters.
Pierson has also ordered a comprehensive review of the incident. The Secret Service says it’s unacceptable that Gonzalez made it so far before being arrested.
Gonzalez was charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a “deadly or dangerous weapon,” according to an affidavit released by the U.S. attorney’s office.
The affidavit also revealed that Gonzalez was carrying a knife at the time of his arrest. Previously, the Secret Service said Gonzalez was unarmed.
White House spokesman Frank Benenati says President Barack Obama has full confidence in the Secret Service. He says the White House expects the review to be performed with the professionalism and commitment Americans expect from the Secret Service.
2nd man arrested in 2 days
A man who drove up to a White House gate and refused to leave was arrested on Saturday, the Secret Service said, less than 24 hours after another man jumped the fence and made it all the way into the presidential residence before being apprehended. The president and first family were not at home.
The second incident started Saturday afternoon when a man approached one of the White House gates on foot, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said. He later showed up at another gate in a car and pulled into the vehicle screening area. When the man refused to leave, he was placed under arrest and charged with unlawful entry. Officials have not released his identity.
A U.S. Secret Service agent with an automatic rifle hurries people to evacuate the White House complex over a security alert moments after President Barack Obama and his family left for the presidential retreat, Camp David, in Maryland, September 19, 2014. (Larry Downing/Reuters)
Bomb technicians, fully suited, could be seen looking through a white four-door sedan with New Jersey plates and pulling out what appeared to be keys. Streets near the White House were temporarily closed as officers responded, but the White House was not locked down.
It wasn’t immediately clear who the man was or why he was trying to enter the White House.
There were no signs that Saturday’s arrest was related to the security breach the night before. But the pair of incidents in short succession heightened concerns about security at the White House, one of the most heavily protected buildings in the world.
The Secret Service has struggled in recent years to strike the appropriate balance between ensuring the first family’s security and preserving the public’s access to the White House grounds. Once open to vehicles, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was confined to pedestrians after the Oklahoma City bombing, but officials have been reluctant to restrict access to the area further.
Last year, a 34-year-old dental hygienist tried to ram her car through a White House barrier before leading police on a chase that ended with her being killed. Her 1-year-old daughter was in the car but escaped serious injury.