White House Intruder Had 800 Rounds of Ammo in Car, Prosecutor Says
As Obama says he was “obviously concerned” by security breach
A former soldier suspected of jumping the White House fence while armed with a knife Friday had 800 rounds of ammunition in his car, a prosecutor claimed Monday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Mudd said during a preliminary hearing that Omar J. Gonzalez also had a hatchet and a knife in his automobile, but no gun. The prosecutor said Gonzalez, who was also arrested in August for possessing a sniper rifle and a sawn-off shotgun, represented a danger to the president, the Associated Press reports.
The news came the same day as President Barack Obama’s spokesman said he was “obviously concerned” about Friday’s fence-jumping incident at the White House.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama was briefed multiple times Friday night and updated throughout the weekend on the investigation into how the alleged jumper made it into the Executive Mansion, which prompted a short evacuation of part of the sprawling complex.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson ordered a security review of the White House and of the events leading up to Friday’s incident, which occurred minutes after the First Family departed the South Lawn on Marine One for a weekend trip to Camp David. White House officials and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson are are awaiting the results of the investigation.
“In the meantime, I encourage all of us to not rush to judgment about the event and not second-guess the judgment of security officers who had only seconds to act, until all the facts are in,” Johnson said in a statement Monday.
The Secret Service review will include the positioning of Secret Service assets inside and outside the White House perimeter, possible technical and security enhancements, and potential staffing issues, Earnest said. Secret Service officials are contemplating expanding the White House perimeter to screen tourists further from the complex or to create a larger buffer-zone around the presidential residence.
“Providing security at the White House is complicated business,” Earnest said, adding that Obama still has confidence in the agency charged with protecting him and his family.
“The Secret Service has the challenging task of balancing the need to ensure the safety and security of the first family, while also ensuring that the White House continues to be the people’s house,” Earnest said. “And balancing those equities is challenging work, but it’s clear that in this case a review of that work is warranted and that review will be conducted.”
Earnest said the agency has already made changes to some of its procedures, including beefing up security at the North Lawn fence-line. Additionally, he said the agency will now ensure that the North Portico door is locked when not in use by White House staff and tourists. “When the door is not in use, it will be secured,” Earnest said.