Donald Trump hails Secret Service for White House intruder arrest

US President Donald Trump has praised the Secret Service after an intruder into the White House was arrested on March 10, 2017.
US President Donald Trump has praised the Secret Service after an intruder into the White House was arrested on March 10, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump on Saturday (March 11) praised the Secret Service for a "fantastic job" following their late-night arrest of an intruder who breached the White House grounds while the President was there.

After scaling a perimeter fence at the Washington executive residence just before midnight on Friday, the suspect was arrested by uniformed Secret Service officers, officials at the agency told AFP. He was carrying a backpack.

The suspect was identified in court records as Jonathan Tran, 26, of California, CNN reported.

When approached by an officer, Tran said: "No, I am a friend of the President. I have an appointment," CNN said, quoting a report released on Saturday by the Washington Metropolitan Police Department.

Police department officials could not be reached for comment.

When asked how he got onto the White House grounds, Tran said: "I jumped the fence."

 

Speaking to reporters on Saturday at his Virginia golf club, Mr Trump said the "Secret Service did a fantastic job last night" adding that the intruder "was a troubled person". Authorities did not find dangerous materials inside the backpack following a screening. The grounds of the presidential complex were also deemed safe.

Mr Trump, who is spending the weekend in the nation's capital, was in the White House at the time of the intrusion. He was apprised of the situation, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told journalists on Saturday.

Mr John Kelly, head of the US Department of Homeland Security, was briefed on the security breach.

The White House has seen a string of high-profile trespassing incidents in recent years.

In one notable 2014 incident, while Mr Barack Obama was president, a disturbed Army veteran jumped the White House fence, sprinted across the lawn and entered the building with a knife in his pocket.