A loud bang due to fire in a food vendor’s cart nearby triggered lockdown at the White House as President Barack Obama was about to leave in a helicopter.
Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said the fire was put off and the President and his family left by motorcade an hour later to Andrews Air Force base to board Air Force One, on their way to Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a civil rights march.
Last year, on September 11, an intruder into the US Presidential palace the White House during the evening hours after the US First family left the building, caused furore about the security of the US President and the occupants of the White House and he was subdued immediately.
But there were some serious security incidents at the White House in recent history and here are some of them:
1973: A driver had crashed through a gate onto the White House grounds, the nineteenth-century.
1974: Marshall Fields, on Christmas Day in 1974, who claimed he was the Messiah, crashed his Chevrolet Impala through the Northwest Gate of the White House Complex and drove up to the North Portico. He had flares strapped to his body, which he told SS to detonate but was subdued after 4 hours of talks. In response, the nineteenth-century, wrought-iron gates were replaced with reinforced gates in 1976.
1976: On December 1, 1976, Steven B. Williams became the first would-be intruder to test the new, strengthened gates. He rammed the Northwest Gate with his pickup truck at approximately 25 miles per hour. The gate did not buckle and the front of Williams’ truck was flattened. Since then, many have tried but failed to crash through gates onto the White House grounds. On at least one occasion, a driver attempted to enter the Complex through a gate opened for another vehicle, but he too was unsuccessful, said a report by the SS.
1985: On January 20, 1985, the day that President Ronald Reagan was sworn in for his second term, an intruder named Robert Latta entered the White House with the Marine Band and wandered around the Executive Mansion for 15 minutes before he was discovered and apprehended.
The instances of fence jumpers or intruders who scale the fence around the White House Complex and enter the grounds has become a common cause of worry. Most of these “fence jumpers” have been pranksters, peaceful protesters, and harmless, mentally-ill individuals.
1976: Chester Plummer, a local taxi driver with a criminal history, scaled the White House fence carrying a 3-foot length of metal pipe. As he advanced toward the White House, he was confronted by an EPS officer, who shot him dead.
1978: Anthony Henrywho wanted to persuade President Carter that it was blasphemous to place the words “In God We Trust” on United States currency, wearing a white karate suit and carrying a Bible, climbed over the White House fence onto the north grounds. When confronted, he pulled a knife from inside the Bible and slashed one officer’s face and another’s arm but was apprehended.
1975: In December 1975, Gerald Gainous roamed the grounds for an hour and a half and approached President Ford’s daughter while she unloaded camera equipment from her car.
1991: In 1991, Gustav Leijohhufved, a Swedish citizen, was not apprehended until he reached a guard post outside the West Wing. Neither of these men were armed, however.
1997: The only armed fence jumpers have been Plummer and Henry, although an intruder threatened a Uniformed Division officer with a water pistol in 1977.
1974: A stolen Army helicopter landed without authorization on the White House grounds, posing the challenge from the skies for the White House, which was otherwise secured on the ground.
1994: Twenty years later, a light plane crashed on the White House grounds, and the pilot died instantly.
2005: An unauthorized aircraft tried to approach the ground at the White House triggering evacuation of the White House and beefing up the air traffic security.