In a bizarre incident entirely unorthodox in nature, a man with a knife jumped the fence of the US Presidential palace the White House and intruded into one of the world’s most secured place before being apprehended and taken into custody, pending investigation but shaking the confidence of the nation and its president.
President Barack Obama, however, reiterated his confidence in the Secret Service, the agency wrested with full powers to ensure the safety of the president, his family and the White House. Fortunately, the president and his daughters had just left the palace by helicopter on Friday evening when the incident happened.
the Secret Service said the man, identified as Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, had scaled the fence, darting across the lawn and reached the open North Portico door before officers challenged him and took him into custody. Though the incident took everyone by surprise, a statement from the White House Spokesman Frank Benenati said, “The president has full confidence in the Secret Service and is grateful to the men and women who day in and day out protect himself, his family and the White House.”
But the incident is not so simple as the White House wants to portray for the public and the world. Though details of the probe ordered by Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, the way it led to evacuation of the North Fence of the compound triggers utmost insecurity for any resident of the White House henceforth.
“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 agency defended its role in a statement. “Although last night the officers showed tremendous restraint and discipline in dealing with this subject, the location of Gonzalez’s arrest is not acceptable.”
Now the focus is on Gonzalez who told Secret Service agents that he was concerned about the environmental degradation and needed to contact the president “so he could get word out to the people.” Then why was he keeping a knife in his clothes?
Gonzalez, of Copperas Cove, Texas, was taken to a hospital for evaluation and he will be produced in federal court on Monday to face charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon. In another incident within hours, a second man was apprehended after he refused to leave the surroundings of the White House gate, though it was an unrelated incident, said the Secret Service.
Gonzalez neighbours from Waco, Texas, confirmed that he was behaving weird before he disappeared. Elke Warner, one of those known to him told AP: “At the end, he got so weird. He had motion detector lights put in,” Warner said.