White House fence-jumper held without bail

Accused of jumping a perimeter fence, running across the lawn and entering the White House before being apprehended, Omar J. Gonzalez is being held without bail.  Seen as a flight risk, the U.S. District Court of Washington, DC deemed him a danger to President Obama.

According to NBC News, President Obama expressed concern about the incident.  However, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “At the same time he (the President) has confidence in the Secret Service to do challenging work.”

The President and his family were not at the mansion at the time of the incident.

Gonzalez, 42, has a charge pending for unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon.  He had a 3 ½ inch serrated knife in his pocket when he was detained by the Secret Service.  The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Bloomberg News has reported that Gonzalez, of Copperas Cove, Texas, was currently out on bail from another incident hailing from Virginia.  In July, he was charged with felony counts of possession of a sawed-off shotgun and evading arrest.  Also at that time, authorities found a map with the White House circled.

During his hearing this week, prosecutors pointed out that Gonzalez had been stopped in late August for walking along the White House fence with a hatchet.  However, he was not arrested.

On the day he jumped the fence, ammunition and weapons were found in his vehicle.

Gonzalez left the Army in 2012 under a disability retirement.  He had served from 1997 to 2003, and from 2005 until he retired.  During his enlistment, he was deployed to Iraq.

NBC News reported that Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has ordered increased surveillance and more officer patrols around the White House.  An investigation is being conducted to find out what went wrong and how Gonzalez was able to enter the premises.

Preliminary discussions are being held to explore the option of setting up security screening checkpoints in public areas surrounding the mansion.


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