Fence-Jumper Got Deep Inside White House: Report

Omar Gonzalez overpowered guard, passed First Family's quarters
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2014 4:40 PM CDT
Fence-Jumper Got Deep Inside White House: Report
This Sept. 21, 2009 photo provided by Jerry Murphy shows Omar Gonzalez, who was married to Murphy's mother, Samantha, until they divorced in 2012.   (AP Photo/Courtesy Jerry Murphy)

(Newser) – The fence-jumper who bolted across the White House lawn with a knife this month made it further than previously admitted—inside the building and within a stone's throw of the First Family's living quarters, the Washington Post reports. Insiders say former Army soldier Omar Gonzalez overpowered a Secret Service officer and ran inside, passing a stairway that leads up a half-flight to the Obamas' home. Gonzalez then ran into the East Room, which is used for presidential addresses or receptions, and got taken down by a counter-assault agent. The Secret Service had said that Gonzalez was apprehended at the main entry.

Why the security lapse? Apparently the White House usher's office had asked that the alarm box near the front entrance be muted, because the boxes were noisy, malfunctioning, and regularly going off. So the Secret Service officer inside the front door had no time to prepare for Gonzalez and was overpowered. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, says he plans to grill Secret Service Director Julia Pierson about the incident at a House committee meeting tomorrow. "Have there been some other serious breaches? Absolutely," Chaffetz tells the New York Times—and not all are publicly known, he adds. It's more bad news for the Secret Service, which apparently bungled its reaction to a White House shooter in 2011. (Read more White House stories.)

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