About a week ago, a man honored the anniversary of September 11 by donning a Pokémon hat and jumping the White House fence. Though the Secret Service almost immediately subdued him on the North Lawn, the guy who pulled a similar stunt on Friday evening made it all the way into the White House before agents managed to stop him.
The Associated Press reports that a 42-year-old Texan named Oscar Gonzalez “scaled the fence shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, ignoring commands from officers to halt.” After a sprint across the Obamas’ nice green grass, he was “tackled just inside the doors of the North Portico, the grand, columned entrance that looks out over Pennsylvania Avenue.” The Secret Service found that he was carrying a 2.5-inch knife in his pocket. President Obama and his family had left for Camp David only minutes before Gonzalez made his unannounced visit.
Here is some blurry footage:
Though Gonzalez didn’t appear to pose a major threat, “much” of the White House was evacuated as a precaution. He was charged with unlawful entry into the building and taken to the hospital after he complained of chest pains. The Washington Post reports he told the officers who grabbed him that “the atmosphere was collapsing” and that he’d hoped to speak to Obama about it. Later, the public defender assigned to the case told reporters that Gonzalez spent 18 years in the military, including three tours in Iraq, and had no prior history of arrests. “He’s a very good guy. He is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder,” a family member told the Post.
In the wake the incident, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz spoke for many Americans when he tweeted, “Was the door open? Seriously. It was open?” (The answer seems to be “yes.”) “This situation was a little different than other incidents we have at the White House,” said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan. “What happened here is not acceptable to us, and it’s going to be closely reviewed.” On Saturday, Secret Service agents were seen searching the lawn for anything Gonzalez might have left behind, like, for example, the president’s sense of safety.
This post has been updated throughout.