The U.S. Secret Service has toughened its security around the White House after a man armed with knife was able to breach the security after it scrambled through the fence, ran across the expansive lawn, and entered the building before he was apprehended on Friday night.
The suspect, Iraq war veteran Omar Gonzalez, 42, hopped the fence at around 7:20 p.m. and was able to enter the North Portico building unimpeded, the Agence France-Presse reported.
In a report by NBC News, officials initially said that the suspect was unarmed but a source said Gonzalez had a four-inch folding knife when he was arrested.
The White House, both the U.S. President’s home and workplace, is regarded as the world’s most secured and protected places, so it is unclear how the intruder was able to freely enter its premises.
“Every day the Secret Service is challenged to ensure security at the White House complex while still allowing public accessibility to a national historical site,” the Secret Service said in a statement on Saturday night.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– U.S. Secret Service”]
Although last night the officers showed tremendous restraint and discipline in dealing with this subject, the location of Gonzalez’s arrest is not acceptable,
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson increased security patrols and surveillance of the White House’s north fence and ordered an investigation into the incident, USA Today reported.
Intruders were able to pass through the fences before but it is extremely rare for someone like Gonzalez to reach as far as the doors of North Portico, the columned building facing Pennsylvania Avenue, without being impeded by the security forces.
Gonzalez was charged with unlawful entry into the White House complex and transported to a nearby hospital after complaining of chest pain.
In a formal complaint, Gonzalez said he was “concerned that the atmosphere was collapsing” and needed to talk to the president “so he could get word out to the people.”