Date
20 September 2017
Uniformed members of the US Secret Service boost their presence outside the White House in Washington, DC, on Monday. Photo: AFP
Uniformed members of the US Secret Service boost their presence outside the White House in Washington, DC, on Monday. Photo: AFP

White House intruder had weapons, ammunition in his car

The man who broke into the White House on Friday night had 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete in his car, and had two previous brushes with the law this year, highlighting possible security lapses in the official mansion.

Omar Gonzalez, 42, a decorated Iraq war veteran, was also arrested in July with a sniper rifle and a map marking the building, Reuters reported, citing a federal prosecutor. He was also stopped, but not arrested, in August walking by the White House with a hatchet in his waistband, the report said.

The new information came as the US Secret Service is trying to determine how the agency failed to stop him from getting inside the complex and whether more security is needed, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

Asked on Monday whether he has confidence in the agency, President Barack Obama said: “Secret Service does a great job. And I’m grateful for the sacrifices they make on my behalf and my family’s behalf.”

Gonzalez faces charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a “deadly or dangerous weapon”. He was carrying a knife when he entered the White House. The charge carries up to 10 years in prison, according to Reuters.

Obama and his family were not at home at the time.

After his arrest on Friday, Gonzales, a retired Army sergeant, consented to a search of his car, where officers found more than 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete, the report said.

He told a Secret Service agent “he was concerned that the atmosphere was collapsing” and needed to get the information to the president, the report said, citing an affidavit released by prosecutors.

Prosecutors urged the federal judge not to release Gonzales on bail, saying his “preoccupation with the White House and accumulation of large amounts of ammunition in apparently a short period of time renders him a danger to the president”.

The Secret Service, meanwhile, is considering ways to increase the number of security staff and expand the security zone around the White House to keep tourists and other members of the public farther away, Earnest was quoted as saying.

– Contact us at [email protected]

CG

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe