Accused White House Intruder to Appear in Court

0Associated Press (Sep 22) — Investigators found more than 800 rounds of ammunition, a machete and two hatchets in the car of the former soldier accused of scaling the White House fence and sprinting inside while carrying a knife, a federal prosecutor said Monday. President Barack Obama was “obviously concerned” about the weekend incident, a spokesman said.

The Secret Service increased security around the famous grounds on Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation’s capital, some guards openly holding weapons, others escorting dogs. There was talk of expanding the security zone beyond the current area as a major investigation began into the question of how the man managed to get to the building without being stopped.

On Monday evening, a temporary, second layer of fence was set up along the north side of the White House, in an apparent attempt to deter additional fence-jumping incidents

Forty-two-year-old Omar J. Gonzalez of Copperas Cove, Texas, faces charges of entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon. He had been arrested earlier in the summer in Virginia with a carful of weapons, authorities said, and a federal prosecutor said Monday in court that Gonzalez had had a map then with the White House circled.

Authorities ran into Gonzalez again, less than a month ago on Aug. 25, when he was stopped while walking along the south fence of the White House, his car parked nearby. He had a hatchet in a rear waistband but no firearms, a federal prosecutor said at Monday’s hearing. Gonzalez gave permission to search his car and was not arrested.

Friday evening, Obama and his family had left the White House for Camp David when the incident occurred. Gonzalez was seized just inside the building’s front door. No guns were found in his car.

In court, Gonzalez, with a gray beard, a shaved head and dressed in a standard prison orange jumpsuit, listened impassively as the prosecutor spoke. He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of illegally entering a restricted area with a dangerous weapon.

The Army said he served from 1997 until his discharge in 2003, and again from 2005 to December 2012, when he retired due to disability.

Obama, asked about the incident at the White House, said, “The Secret Service does a great job, and I’m grateful for the sacrifices that they make on my behalf — and my family’s behalf.”

But spokesman Josh Earnest said the president was “obviously concerned” about what had happened.

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