Secret Service: Person arrested on White House grounds

WASHINGTON | A man carrying a backpack scaled a White House fence Friday night and was arrested on the South Lawn of the presidential residence, according to the U.S. Secret Service.

The suspect was charged and could make an initial appearance in D.C. Superior Court later on Saturday.

His identity was not immediately released.

A federal law enforcement official said the man arrested has no prior criminal record and had no previous history with the Secret Service. The official spoke on the condition of not being named to discuss background information about the suspect that is not usually made public by police.

The U.S. Secret Service said the breach occurred at 11:38 p.m. when the person managed to get over an outer-perimeter fence near the Treasury Building on East Executive Avenue. Uniformed members of the Secret Service arrested him on the South Lawn.

Authorities said the person was carrying a backpack that was searched. It did not contain any hazardous materials, the Secret Service statement said.

Further searches of the grounds turned up nothing suspicious, according to law enforcement authorities.

The Associated Press reported that President Trump was in the White House at the time.

Friday’s night’s fence jumper is believed to the first under the Trump administration. In the previous two years, many people tried or succeeded in getting into the most secure residence in the world. Last year, the Secret Service added small spikes — or “pencil points” — to the top of the six-foot fence that surrounds the White House complex.

The agency also announced a plan to raise the height of the security fence to 11 feet by 2018.

Some break in to make political statements, or are emotionally disturbed. One man last year jumped the fence while being chased by people who had seen him commit a robbery. In 2015, a Connecticut man scaled the fence while draped in an American flag on Thanksgiving Day. He had left a suicide note with his friends.

In May, a Secret Service agent shot and critically wounded a man who approached a guard booth outside the White House and refused to put down the pistol he was carrying.

Perhaps the most serious breach was on Sept. 19, 2014, when Omar Gonzalez climbed over the north fence and made his way deep into the White House. When he was finally tackled by an off-duty Secret Service agent in the ornate East Room, he was found to have a knife in a pants pocket.

Two hatchets, a machete and 800 rounds of ammunition were found in his car nearby. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned two weeks later.

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