Veteran breaks into White House


The White House is now surrounded by temporary fencing in response to the intrusion, creating a wide barrier between its grounds and tourists. Internet photo courtesy of Reuters.

Ann Rajan, Contributing Writer

An intruder carrying a knife scaled the White House fence and sprinted through an unlocked entrance last week, surpassing all levels of security. He later explained to guards that he needed to warn the President that the atmosphere was collapsing.

Iraq war veteran Omar Gonzalez, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, has been identified as the intruder. No one was injured, and Obama and his family were not present. Officers later found eight hundred rounds of ammunition, a machete and two hatchets in his car in addition to the knife he carried.

Senior Nathan Cornwell expects better protection for the White House.

“There is no way that anyone should have been able to get access so easily to such an area,” Cornwell said. “This calls for a definite upgrade in the security of the White House.”

An agent inside the mansion finally subdued Gonzalez, who sidestepped a disguised surveillance team and an officer on the front lawn. After Gonzalez passed these security measures, the Secret Service failed to release an attack dog and the SWAT team in time.

U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson assumes responsibility for the security breach.

“It’s clear that our security plan was not properly executed,” Pierson told CNN. “I take full responsibility. What happened is unacceptable, and it will never happen again.”

In response to the intrusion, the Secret Service will begin a bag check in the White House vicinity and monitor tourists more closely. New locking mechanisms will also be installed to the White House.

Sophomore Emma Liu believes the past measures were not enough.

“The White House should have done a better job maintaining its safety,” Liu said. “They should have taken greater measures to ensure that Gonzalez didn’t get to the front, but achieve that goal without harming him.”

Gonzalez is a decorated veteran who served in the army for fifteen years. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and paranoia after his first tour of Iraq in 2008. Gonzalez carried a gun with him at all times, even while in the house, according to his neighbors.

An unidentified relative of Gonzalez hopes that the intrusion will bring light to giving veterans proper treatment.

“He’s been depressed for quite some time,” the relative told LA Times. “He’d been taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. I suspect he stopped taking it, otherwise this wouldn’t have happened.”

Gonzalez had previously made several  attempts to break into the White House. Both times he was caught by White House security but released because the incident occurred outside the White House borders.

Social studies teacher Lindsey Corcoran thinks the United States needs to take better care of its veterans to prevent future outlashes.

“In the last couple years we’ve seen several incidents in which veterans suffering from mental complications are acting out in violent ways,” Corcoran said. “I think that we need to be more concerned with helping our soldiers adjust to civilian life when they return rather than with security.”