White House intruder on grounds 16 minutes before arrest – secret service

The intrusion was the latest in a series of breaches at the White House in recent years. Photograph: Susan Walsh/Associated Press

A man who scaled the White House fence last week was on the property’s grounds for 16 minutes before he was detained, the US secret service said in a statement on Friday.

The man hopped a 5ft fence near the US treasury department, which is located next to the White House, then climbed an 8ft vehicle gate and a shorter fence near the south-east corner of the East Wing of the White House grounds before he was caught, the secret service said.

“The secret service can confirm that at no time did the individual gain entry into the White House,” the statement said.

Jonathan Tran, 26, from Milpitas, California, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for entering the grounds without permission.

He set off several alarms after jumping the fence but was able to avoid other sensors before he was discovered just steps from the main building, CNN reported on Friday.

The network also reported that Tran was spotted “looming around” Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue, where the White House is located, nearly six hours before his arrest.

The incident prompted Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House of Representatives oversight committee, to request that secret service acting director William Callahan provide a briefing on Monday. In a letter to Callahan on Friday, Chaffetz referred to allegations that Tran moved undetected around the grounds “for a considerable amount of time”.

“The committee has longstanding concerns regarding repeated security incidents at USSS-protected facilities,” Chaffetz wrote. He noted that a 2015 committee report on the secret service found 143 breaches and attempted breaches over a 10-year period.

Donald Trump was inside the residence at the time of the security breach late on 10 March.

The secret service said it was taking additional steps to prevent security lapses.

Tran told federal agents that he was a friend of the president and had an appointment, according to court documents. He was carrying two cans of mace, a US passport, a computer and one of Trump’s books, authorities said.

Trump commended the secret service for doing a “fantastic job” apprehending Tran.

Tran was released with no bail on Monday and returned to California, where he must submit to GPS monitoring until his next hearing in Washington.

The intrusion was the latest in a series of breaches at the White House in recent years. Security has been boosted, including the installation in 2015 of sharp spikes on top of the black iron fence that circles the 18-acre (7-hectare) property.

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By Stanley Ward 03/17/2017 14:01:00
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