An intruder with a backpack who had scaled the outer perimeter fence around the White House was arrested shortly before midnight Friday on the grounds of the president’s official residence in Washington.
Uniformed U.S. Secret Service officers arrested the person without incident and identified him Saturday as Jonathan Tran, 26, of Milpitas, California.
“I am a friend of the president. I have an appointment,” the young man was quoted as telling the guards who arrested him. “I jumped the fence.”
President Donald Trump, who was not involved in the incident in any way, said the young man was “a troubled person.” He had no criminal record.
In a written statement, Secret Service spokesman Martin Mulholland said Saturday that Tran’s backpack contained no hazardous materials, and that nothing of concern was found during a full search of the White House grounds.
Trump was in the White House at the time but was never in any danger, White House officials said. He told reporters Saturday he had been informed of the incident promptly, and he tweeted his thanks to his security team: “Secret Service did a fantastic job last night. I appreciate it.”
The Secret Service tightened security around the White House after three incidents occurred in September 2014, during former President Barack Obama’s second term.
In the most serious incident, an Iraq War veteran said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder jumped the fence on September 19 and ran through the North Portico entrance and into the East Room of the residence, where he was apprehended. He was carrying a small knife in his pocket. Obama and his family were not home at the time.
Less than 24 hours later, a New Jersey 19-year old was arrested and charged with unlawful entry after he tried to enter a White House gate on foot, then returned later in a vehicle, which he refused to step out of at a security checkpoint.
On September 11, a man scaled the White House fence and was apprehended quickly on the North Lawn.
In 2016, a uniformed Secret Service officer shot and wounded a man who approached a White House entrance and refused orders to put down a pistol he was carrying.
Several members of Congress have previously called for a congressional investigation into White House security breaches. After the 2014 incidents, Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, told Fox News, “This is the most basic, the most simple type of procedure. How anyone — especially in these days of ISIS [the Islamic State terrorist group], and we’re concerned about terrorist attacks — someone could actually get into the White House without being stopped is inexcusable.”
Attempts to reach King on Saturday were unsuccessful.