- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2014

The man who jumped over the White House fence and sprinted across the front lawn made it all the way to the East Room before he was apprehended, according to a Washington Post report.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican and chairman of a House subcommittee on national security oversight, confirmed to The Associated Press that Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, made it much further than was previously reported.

Citing unnamed sources, the Post reported that Mr. Gonzalez rushed past a Secret Service agent at the front door on Sept. 19, and made it all the way to the East Room, which is typically used for receptions or presidential addresses, before he was arrested.

The Iraqi war veteran dashed right past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first family’s living quarters, The Post reported. Officials had previously said that Mr. Gonzalez only made it just inside the North Portico doors.

Mr. Chaffetz criticized the Secret Service and its leadership for not doing more to stop the suspect earlier, on the eve of a congressional oversight hearing with the director of the embattled agency assigned to protect the president’s life.

“I have deep concerns that the president is not as safe as we want and need him to be,” he said on CNN.

Shortly after the incident, a Secret Service spokesman told AP that the suspect had been apprehended just inside the North Portico doors of the White House. The agency also said that Mr. Gonzalez was unarmed, which also proved to be untrue. He was carrying a small folding knife, and investigators found more than 800 rounds of ammunition in his car parked nearby, police said.

A Secret Service spokesman declined to comment Monday because of the ongoing investigation.

In a 2011 incident at the White House, shots were fired and the Secret Service did not immediately respond amid uncertainty about where the shot came from, the Post reported. It was later discovered that at least one bullet pierced a third story window of the White House.

Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez of Idaho has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 2011 incident. Mr. Gonzalez, 42, was arrested Sept. 19 after agents stopped him inside the White House.

This story is based in part on wire service reports. 

 

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