The man who forced the evacuation of the West Wing when he jumped the White House fence with a knife on Friday will appear in court on Monday.
Omar J. Gonzalez of Copperas Cove, Texas faces charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon. The 47-year-old scaled the fence just moments after the First Family boarded Marine One, causing the Secret Service to tighten security around the perimeter of the White House.
Gonzalez was able to enter the presidential mansion before agents stopped him.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has ordered increased surveillance and more officer patrols, and has begun an investigation into what went wrong.
And the U.S. Secret Service is having preliminary discussions about setting up security screening checkpoints near public areas around the White House, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Sunday. The official insisted on anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations by name.
The breach triggered a rare evacuation of much of the White House. Secret Service agents drew their weapons as they hurried White House staffers and journalists out of the West Wing through a side door.
Agents didn’t shoot because it appeared Gonzalez was unarmed, according to White House officials. A criminal complaint issued Friday revealed Gonzalez was actually holding a small folding knife.
In the days following the breach, information about the Army veteran has come to light, including insight into his mental condition.
The Army says Gonzalez served from 1997 until his discharge in 2003, and again from 2005 to December 2012, when he retired due to disability.
Jerry Murphy, whose mother was married to Gonzalez for several years, said Gonzalez suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and needs treatment, not to be treated like a criminal. He said Gonzalez had been driving around the country and living out of his truck for the past couple of years, and that he always carries his knife. He said he doesn’t believe Gonzalez intended to hurt anyone.
Samantha Bell, Gonzalez’s ex-wife, said she and Gonzalez married in 2006 and lived together in Copperas Cove, near Fort Hood, until she split up with him in 2010 because of his worsening mental condition. After his second tour in Iraq, Gonzalez began carrying a .45 on his hip at all times and kept three or four rifles and shotguns behind the doors in their home, said Bell, who remarried and now lives in southern Indiana.
An investigation into the breach continues.
SOURCE: AP/ABC | VIDEO SOURCE: News Inc.