White House evacuated after man jumps fence

2014-09-20 12:05

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Washington - A man triggered an evacuation at the White House late on Friday after he scaled a fence and made it into the building before being captured.

US President Barack Obama and his family were not at the White House at the time, though officials and journalists were rushed out of the building during the disturbance that began on the North Lawn around 19:20 (23:20 GMT) on Friday, the Secret Service said.

Minutes earlier, the first family had left by helicopter from the South Lawn headed for Camp David, the presidential weekend retreat.

Secret Service spokesperson Brian Leary identified the suspect as Omar Gonzalez, 42, from Copperas Cove, Texas.

"It appeared to responding officers that he was unarmed, which turned out to be true," Leary added.

"Gonzalez ignored the commands of those officers to stop and ultimately was apprehended by officers just inside the North Portico doors of the White House."

Leary said the suspect was taken to George Washington Hospital for a medical evaluation.

Gonzalez was suffering from chest pains, according to a law enforcement official.

"Any time someone jumps the fence, there is a security breach and the Secret Service has to balance security with access and reasonableness," the official added.

"The location of the arrest - the White House - is not acceptable to the Secret Service."

The official noted the incident would be reviewed closely.

Republican lawmaker Jason Chaffetz agreed, branding the Secret Service response "TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE" in a tweet.

Videos posted online showed a man in jeans and a dark T-shirt running across the North Lawn of the White House toward the North Portico doors.

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