White House intruder on grounds 16
minutes before arrest: Secret Service
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[March 18, 2017]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A man who
scaled the White House fence last week was on the property's grounds for
16 minutes before he was detained, the U.S. Secret Service said in a
statement on Friday.
Jonathan Tran, 26, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for
entering the grounds without permission.
He hopped a 5-foot fence near the U.S. Treasury Department, which is
located next to the White House, then climbed an 8-foot vehicle gate and
a shorter fence near the southeast corner of the East Wing of the White
House grounds before he was caught, the Secret Service said.
"The Secret Service can confirm that at no time did the individual gain
entry into the White House," the statement said.
Tran, from Milpitas, California, set off several alarms after jumping
the fence but was able to avoid other sensors before he was discovered
just steps from the main building, CNN reported on Friday.
The network also reported that Tran was spotted "looming around"
Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue, where the White House is located,
nearly six hours before his arrest.
The incident prompted Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House of
Representatives oversight committee, to request that Secret Service
Acting Director William Callahan provide a briefing on Monday. In a
letter to Callahan on Friday, Chaffetz referred to allegations that Tran
moved undetected around the grounds "for a considerable amount of time."
"The Committee has longstanding concerns regarding repeated security
incidents at USSS-protected facilities," Chaffetz wrote. He noted that a
2015 committee report on the Secret Service found 143 breaches and
attempted breaches over a 10-year period.
"The moment somebody jumps over the fence they have to be taken down,"
Chaffetz later told CNN. "This one scares me probably more than any
because of the length of time, the proximity to the president, getting
right up close to the White House and going so long without being
detected. It makes no sense. I don't know what in the world they're
doing but it is a total and complete embarrassment."
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Flowers protrude from the snow as a woman stops to gaze out at the
White House from Lafayette Park in Washington, U.S., March 14, 2017.
President Donald Trump was inside the residence at the time of the
security breach late on March 10.
The Secret Service said it was taking additional steps to prevent
Tran told federal agents that he was a friend of the president and
had an appointment, according to court documents. He was carrying
two cans of mace, a U.S. passport, a computer and one of Trump's
books, authorities said.
Trump commended the Secret Service for doing a "fantastic job"
Tran was released with no bail on Monday and returned to California,
where he must submit to GPS monitoring until his next hearing in
The intrusion was the latest in a series of breaches at the White
House in recent years. Security has been boosted, including the
installation in 2015 of sharp spikes on top of the black iron fence
that circles the 18-acre (7-hectare) property.
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson in Washington and Joseph Ax in New
York; Editing by Frances Kerry and Richard Chang)
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