The man who jumped the White House fence Friday night and made it into the executive mansion had 800 rounds of ammunition in his car and had previously been arrested with a variety of firearms and a map with the White House circled.
Far from being the innocuous fence jumper initially portrayed, Omar Jose Gonzales of Texas, an Iraq war veteran, in fact now appears to perhaps have had some bad things in mind for the president or his family.
Gonzales had a three and a half inch serrated knife on his person when he was stopped, a minor weapon compared to others he’d been keeping in his car, but one that could still inflict lethal damage.
Gonzales appeared in court today in Washington. From the Washington Post:
After a 15-minute hearing, (Judge) Facciola ordered Gonzalez held until Oct. 1, pending revocation of bond by authorities in an unrelated July 19 incident in Wythe County, Va. In that case, he was arrested while allegedly carrying a sawed-off shotgun, two sniper rifles and several other firearms, as well as a map of the Washington area with the Masonic Temple in Alexandria, Va., circled and a line pointed toward the White House, a local prosecutor said.
Earlier, on Aug. 25, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Mudd said, U.S. Secret Service officers saw Gonzalez carrying a hatchet in the back waistband of his pants along the south fence of the White House and questioned him. Gonzalez agreed to let them search his vehicle, parked nearby on New York Avenue NW, but at that time they found only camping gear and two dogs, and released him.
Gonzalez’s “preoccupation with the White House and accumulation of a large amount of ammunition in apparently a short period of time represented a danger to the president,” Mudd said.
Asked if he had confidence in the Secret Service, Obama said today, “The Secret Service does a great job. I’m grateful for all the sacrifices they make on my behalf and on my family’s behalf.”
Maybe so, but this is an astounding security breach that surely is going to give more serious bad guys some ideas. The area where Gonzalez was apprehended is right downstairs from the Obama family living quarters.
It’s incredible that with all the supposedly elaborate security, the White House didn’t simply have a human being in front of the building who could get in the way of an intruder. The questions just multiply from there.
What if a dozen people went over the wall? What’s the plan for that? Is there a plan for that?
Why wasn’t the dog who usually takes down such intruders released? Why is there only a dog between the fence and someone gaining access to the residence? Why wasn’t Gonzales shot by a sniper? How did they know for sure he wasn’t loaded up with explosives?
This either a failure of planning, a failure of the Secret Service officers on the ground, or most likely, both.
Meantime, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest today said the White House had taken a significant step toward preventing further such intrusions. It will lock the front door.