SHAFAQNA – An intruder who breached security at the White House had 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete inside his nearby car, a court heard yesterday.
Omar Jose Gonzalez, an Iraq war veteran, caused a major security review after he managed to scale the fence, evade security service agents and run in through the unlocked main door of the White House on Friday night.
Appearing before a federal court judge yesterday, the 42-year-old was charged with entering a restricted building while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon.
He was armed only with a small knife, but the former soldier, who is understood to have suffered post traumatic stress disorder, had become “a danger to the president” the court heard.
During a 20-minute hearing, the court heard of two previous incidents this summer. He was arrested and bailed in July when he was found 300 miles from Washington DC carrying a sawn-off shotgun and a map of the city, with the White House circled.
Then, in August, US secret service officers saw Mr Gonzalez carrying a hatchet in the back waistband of his trousers as he walked along the south fence of the White House.
On that occasion, Mr Gonzalez agreed to let officers search his vehicle, parked nearby, but at they found only camping gear and two dogs, and released him.
Mr Gonzalez’s “preoccupation with the White House and accumulation of a large amount of ammunition in apparently a short period of time represented a danger to the president,” David Mudd, assistant US attorney, said.
He will be held until October 1, pending the revocation of the bail bond issued in July.
President Obama and his family had left the White House 10 minutes before Mr Gonzalez, carrying a folding knife with a three-and-a-half inch serrated blade, jumped the Pennsylvania Avenue fence and sprinted across the North Lawn before entering the mansion through the North Portico door.
The secret service is now considering adding extra barriers around the already heavily-protected White House compound and screening visitors further away from the entrance
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said foot patrols had been increased and the door, used by thousands of tourists every day, will now be locked when not in use.
Mr Obama said yesterday: “The secret service does a great job. I’m grateful for all the sacrifices they make on my behalf and on my family’s behalf.”
According to an affidavit signed by David Hochman, a secret service officer, Mr Gonzalez after his arrest told Agent Lee Smart that he was concerned that the “atmosphere was collapsing” and that he needed to inform the president.
Mr Gonzalez served six years in Iraq with the Army Special Forces as a sniper, and, according to friends and relatives, has been living in his car for the past couple of years.
He has no convictions and he served 18 years in the US military, including three tours in Iraq.
Source : http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/americas/article4214929.ece