White House fence jumper suspect faces plea hearing

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 13, 2015 10:22 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Iraq War veteran faces a plea hearing on Friday on charges of running into the White House armed with a knife, one of a series of security gaffes by the U.S. Secret Service.

The suspect, Omar Gonzalez, 42, has pleaded not guilty to charges in the Sept. 19 incident. He is alleged to have climbed over the White House fence and burst through the front door before being stopped in the executive mansion's East Room.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in October ordered Gonzalez to undergo a mental health evaluation. Gonzalez, formerly of Copperas Cove, Texas, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Gonzalez, who was carrying a folding knife, told a Secret Service agent that he needed to tell President Barack Obama the atmosphere was collapsing, according to an affidavit. Obama and his family were not at home at the time.

Gonzalez faces federal charges of unlawful entry while carrying a weapon and assaulting an officer, as well as District of Columbia ammunition charges.

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The security breach was among a series of embarrassments for the Secret Service, which is charged with guarding the president and his family.

In the most recent incident, two senior agents are under investigation after driving a government car through an area where colleagues were investigating a suspicious package.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Bill Trott)