A man has appeared before a judge in Washington DC after being arrested for jumping over the White House fence at midnight, telling the secret service: “I am a friend of the president”.
The man, identified as Jonathan Tran, 26, was carrying a rucksack as he breached the security perimeter at 11:38pm on Friday night. Prosecutors said the rucksack contained two cans of mace and a passport.
He made his way across the grounds and got close to the South Portico entrance, before he was stopped.
“No,” he reportedly told secret service. “I am a friend of the president. I have an appointment.”
Mr Trump was in the White House at the time, and was informed after the incident.
The suspect had no arrest record or history with the agency charged with protecting the president, his family and other elected officials, the service said in a statement.
The day after all was calm at the White House, with the president heading off on Saturday afternoon for a round of golf at his own course in Virginia.
Mr Trump described Tran as “a troubled person”, and thanked the service for apprehending the intruder.
“Secret Service did a fantastic job,” he said, speaking at the start of a working lunch with several Cabinet members at his golf course outside Washington.
“It was a troubled person.”
His family have echoed Mr Trump’s words, calling him “troubled” after being laid off from his job as an electrical engineer.
Brian Tran, 19, from Milpitas, California, said his older brother had been “living in his car and eating junk food”.
Tran graduated from San Jose State University with an electrical engineering degree and had been “stressed out from the job,” his brother said.
A Secret Service agent called Tran’s family’s home in California on Friday night to inform them of the fence-jumping incident, his brother said, adding that his mother is “very troubled” about the matter.
But it is not the first time that White House security has been breached.
But questions were being raised as to how the intruder could have made it so far into the grounds.
In 2015 three people jumped over the fence – including Joseph Caputo, who leapt the barrier on Thanksgiving Day, cloaked in an American flag and carrying an envelope. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanour charges, and in January this year was sentenced to three years’ probation, but spared prison.
Since Caputo’s attempt, the fence was fitted with 7-inch steel spikes to deter such occurrences.
But that has not deterred all intruders.
In April 2016 a man was arrested for jumping over the White House fence on a Friday evening, just before midnight.
And while most are quickly captured, the most significant security breach in recent times saw a 42-year-old Iraq war veteran run through the main floor past a stairway that leads up to the first family’s residence before he was subdued by Secret Service agents in the East Room.
Omar Gonzalez was carrying 800 rounds of ammunition and had a knife in his pocket. Barack Obama had left the White House half an hour previously.
Source: The Telegraph