WASHINGTON (AP) — A man jumped over the fence of the White House on Friday and made it through the front door before officers managed to apprehend him, just minutes after President Barack Obama had departed, the Secret Service said.
The intruder sprinted toward the White House after leaping over the fence and ignored 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 Ave.
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 J. Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, was placed under arrest and transported to nearby George Washington University Hospital after complaining of chest pain.
Although it’s not uncommon for people to hop the White House fence, they’re typically apprehended before they can get very far. Friday’s incident was likely to prompt a renewed look at security procedures at one of the most highly protected buildings in the world.
“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 breach prompted a rare evacuation of much of the compound. White House staffers and Associated Press journalists inside the West Wing were evacuated by Secret Service officers, some with their weapons drawn.
The incident occurred just minutes after Obama and his daughters, along with a guest of one of the girls, left the White House aboard Marine One on their way to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland where Obama and his family were to spend the weekend. The White House said first lady Michelle Obama had traveled separately to Camp David and was not at home at the time of the incident.
Evacuations at the White House are extremely rare. Typically, when someone jumps the White House fence, the compound is put on lockdown and those inside remain in place while officers respond to the situation.
Last week, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Secret Service apprehended a man who jumped over the North Fence. Officers drew their firearms and used a service dog as they took the man in custody.