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The Texas man who jumped the White House fence and ran into the building with a folding knife on Sept. 19 was indicted on federal and local charges Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. announced.
Omar Gonzalez, 42, was handed three charges, including the federal offense of illegally entering a restricted building while carrying a dangerous weapon. He was also charged with allegedly violating D.C. law by carrying a dangerous weapon outside a home or place of business and unlawful possession of ammunition. After Gonzalez was arrested at the White House, officials searched his car nearby on Constitution Avenue NW and found hundreds of rounds of ammunition in it.
His federal charges carry a maximum of 10 years in prison, while his D.C. charges a maximum of five years for carrying a dangerous weapon and one year for the illegal possession of ammunition. Gonzalez is expected to appear in court today.
The Sept. 19 incident has highlighted security lapses and dysfunction within the Secret Service agency, leading officials to question whether the agency is effectively protecting the president and his family.
A House panel grilled Julia Pierson, the head of the Secret Service, yesterday and lawmakers from both parties called for an independent investigation of the agency. After Gonzalez ran into the White House, the Secret Service originally said he was unarmed and stopped by agents as soon as he entered into the White House. It was later revealed that he ran through a good chunk of the first floor while carrying a knife on him. He was ultimately stopped by a secret service agent that was not on duty.
The Washington Post reported that on Sept. 16 a security contractor with a gun and three convictions of assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with the president in Atlanta, a violation of Secret Service protocols.
In the wake of these Secret Service fumbles, District officials like Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton have been speaking out to ensure that Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House doesn’t just turn into a massive security checkpoint.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.