Man arrested for jumping over White House fence on Thanksgiving
WASHINGTON - The White House was placed on lockdown on Thanksgiving after a man was arrested for jumping over the White House fence.
Joseph Caputo cleared the fence near the briefing room and West Wing areas on a plot of land referred to as "Pebble Beach" at around 2:45 p.m., according to Fox News. He was draped with a U.S. flag and wearing white pants.
Secret Service officers drew their guns and quickly apprehended him. Criminal charges are pending, the Secret Service said in a statement.
The north and south fence lines have been temporarily closed.
A witness to the incident, Victoria Pena of Texas, said the man was standing with other people visiting the White House compound when he rushed toward the fence carrying what appeared to be a binder.
"I just heard him take a big, deep breath and whisper to himself, `All right, let's do this' and he took off," Pena said. "It was chaotic. Everyone around us was yelling and kids were crying. It was pretty unexpected."
Security personnel and guard dogs ran toward the man and he lay on the grass awaiting them, Pena said.
The north and south fence lines at the White House were temporarily closed, Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback said. In the hours after the incident, numerous armed security personnel were seen along the streets and sidewalks outside the executive mansion.
The lockdown has been lifted.
President Barack Obama and his family were celebrating Thanksgiving inside the White House on Thursday.
There have been numerous breaches in security at the White House over the past few years.
One of the more serious fence-jumping incidents happened on Sept 19, 2014 when 43-year-old Omar Gonzalez, an Army veteran, scaled over the fence and reached the East Room of the White House armed with a folding knife in his pocket.
Investigators found hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a machete and two hatchets in his car after he was arrested.
In January, a hobbyist crashed a drone on the southeast side of the White House grounds. A man came forward and told authorities he was flying the drone recreationally in the middle of the night and didn’t mean to fly his quadcopter over the complex.
In May, the Secret Service added a second layer of steel spikes to the top of the fence following an incident the previous month in which a California man scaled the fence and got onto the lawn.
Former Secret Service director Julia Pierson resigned in October 2014 after a series of security lapses during her year and a half on the job.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.