- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2014

President Obama is “obviously concerned” that a person jumped the fence at the White House and made it inside the front door, a spokesman said Monday, as reports surfaced that the intruder had 800 rounds of ammunition in his car.

Mr. Obama and his daughters had just departed on Marine One for Camp David on Friday evening when the man, identified as 42-year-old Iraq war veteran Oscar Gonzalez, climbed the fence and dashed to the North Portico. First lady Michelle Obama also wasn’t home, having departed separately for Camp David.

Agents apprehended the intruder inside the White House carrying a small knife. The president was briefed “multiple times” Friday night about the incident, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday.

“He did indicate, as you would expect, that his family lives in the White House, so he is obviously concerned,” Mr. Earnest said.

Mr. Gonzalez, of Copperas Cove, Texas, was in court Monday facing charges of entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon. Appearing with a gray beard, a shaved head and dressed in a standard prison orange jumpsuit, he was ordered held until Oct. 1. Prosecutors said that in addition to the ammunition he had a hatchet in his car.

The Army said Mr. Gonzalez served from 1997 until his discharge in 2003, and again from 2005 to December 2012, when he retired due to disability. Family members say he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the federal court hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Mudd said Mr. Gonzalez already was under indictment in southwestern Virginia, accused of having a sawed-off shotgun and trying to elude police this summer.

Wythe County Deputy Commonwealth Attorney David Saliba told the Associated Press that Mr. Gonzalez also had two powerful rifles, four handguns and other guns and ammunition in his Ford Bronco when troopers stopped him on July 19. The weapons and ammunition were seized, but Mr. Gonzalez was released on bail. He also had a map of the District with the White House circled and camping equipment.

The incident at the White House prompted talk Monday of expanding security beyond the current area as a major investigation began into the question of how the man managed to get to the building without being stopped. The Secret Service didn’t open fire on Mr. Gonzalez or send attack dogs after him.

Officers who spotted Mr. Gonzalez scale the fence quickly assessed that he didn’t have any weapons in his hands and wasn’t wearing clothing that could conceal substantial quantities of explosives, a primary reason agents did not fire their weapons, according to a U.S. official briefed on the investigation.

Another consideration was whether bystanders behind the fence could have been injured by errant gunfire, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation by name and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The security breach prompted a full-scale review of procedures and staffing, with the agency beefing up foot patrols along the fence line, deploying extra surveillance equipment and stepping up training for its officers since the incident.

Mr. Earnest said Mr. Obama has “complete confidence” in the Secret Service, which faces the “challenging task” of balancing the first family’s security with the public’s access to the White House.

“Providing security at the White House is complicated business,” he said. “The White House is … one of the more popular tourist destinations in the nation’s capital.”

In an Oval Office event Monday, Mr. Obama also praised the Secret Service.

“The Secret Service does a great job,” the president told reporters. “I’m grateful for all the sacrifices they make on my behalf and on my family’s behalf.”

⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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