Sun, Sep 21, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Fence-jumper makes it into the US’ White House


A man jumped over the fence of the White House and made it through the front door on Friday before officers managed to apprehend him, just minutes after US President Barack Obama had departed, the US Secret Service said.

The rare breach was likely to renew intense scrutiny of the Secret Service, an agency whose storied history has been marred in recent years by multiple allegations of misconduct by officers. It was unclear whether a fence-jumper has ever made it into the White House before.

After scaling the fence on the north side of the White House, the intruder darted toward the presidential residence, ignoring commands from officers to stop, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said.

He was ultimately apprehended just inside the north portico doors — the grand, columned entrance that looks out over Pennsylvania Avenue.

Donovan said the man appeared to be unarmed to officers who spotted him jumping the fence, and a search of the suspect turned up no weapons.

The suspect, identified as Omar Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, was placed under arrest and transported to nearby George Washington University Hospital for examination after complaining of chest pain.

Although it is not uncommon for people to make it over the White House fence, they are typically stopped almost immediately and rarely get far before being apprehended. Video showed the suspect, in jeans and a dark shirt, sprinting across the lawn as Secret Service agents shouted at nearby pedestrians to clear the area.

“This situation was a little different than other incidents we have at the White House,” Donovan said. “There will be a thorough investigation into the incident.”

The incident prompted a rare evacuation of much of the White House. Inside the West Wing, White House staffers and journalists were rushed into the basement and out a side exit to a nearby street by Secret Service agents — some with their weapons drawn.

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