Questions are being raised on the reliability of the White house security system after a man jumped over the fence of the complex and managed to make it through the front door of the building, sparking concerns of a lapse in security for the most powerful man on earth.
The incident, which occurred on Friday, sparked an evacuation within the complex shortly after President Barack Obama departed for the weekend.
Omar J. Gonsales, a 42-year-old white male from Texas was able to jump over a fence and get inside the compound at around 7:20 EDT, a US Secret Service spokesman was cited by Reuters as saying. Gonzales ignored commands from the security officials and snipers to stop and was ultimately apprehended just inside the North Portico doors of the White House, which is one of the main entrances into the building.
The incident has immediately sparked nation-wise concerns about the security inside the President's house in Washington. The intruder's ability to get so far inside the compound or his ability to even jump over a fence in a complex that is heavily guarded by Secret Service officers and snipers, is unusual.
Sources have reported citing Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan that the man appeared to be unarmed to officers who spotted him jumping over the fence, and a search of the suspect revealed that he had no weapons. The man was placed under arrest and transported to a nearby hospital after he complained of chest pain.
Although it is very common for people to want to intrude into the White House fence, the intruders are always apprehended before they can get very far. If intruders get very far into the important government building, they being shot for security reasons is not unheard of. But not only did the man manage to get far enough, he was also not shot at – a fact that will now prompt a renewed look at security procedures at one of the most highly protected buildings in the whole world.
Obama and his daughters had left the White House hours before the incident, departing on the Marine One helicopter for Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. First Lady Michelle Obama was also not home at the time, since she had gone for the retreat earlier.