Lawyer says White House fence-jumper wanted to send message

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 29, 2015 7:48 PM

(Reuters) - A Connecticut man charged with jumping a White House fence, wearing an American flag, wanted to deliver a message about government and did not leave a suicide note, one of his lawyers told NBC News on Sunday.

Joseph Caputo, 23, was ordered by a judge on Friday to get a psychiatric evaluation a day after he triggered a White House lockdown by climbing over a tall wrought-iron fence and dashing partway across the lawn before his apprehension.

Lawyer Stephan Seeger told NBC News that Caputo acted out of his political conscience and wanted to send a message about the educational and legal systems in the United States. It is not clear what that message was to be.

Caputo told one of the officers, "I love my country" and "I knew I would be locked up," court documents show. He also left behind two letters, one a suicide note, according to the documents.

Seeger denied that his client left a suicide note.

"Joe wanted to let his family know that if something did happen, there was a range of possibilities," Seeger told NBC News, according to its website. "One possibility would be that he'd be arrested. He used some words that were construed as he would be harmed. He had no intention of taking his own life."

Seeger said Caputo's actions may have been alarming but were not meant as a threat, despite what people may assume.

"If someone does something unorthodox, it's automatically a threat," he said.

After the psychiatric exam, Caputo is scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate on Monday.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)