WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – A passenger vehicle struck a White House security barrier on Friday (Feb 23) but did not breach it, and the female driver was immediately apprehended, the US Secret Service said.
No shots were fired and no law enforcement personnel were hurt, the Secret Service said in a series of tweets.
“This minivan came and crashed into the barricade and tried to push through the barricade and his tires were burning rubber and a lot of smoke was coming up,” eyewitness Chris Bello, 50, of New York, told reporters near the scene.
“And then about 30 seconds after that the two security guards that were in the booth, you know, ordered him to stop doing what he was doing and he didn’t listen,” Bello said.
The White House was put on lockdown following the incident, which occurred shortly after a meeting there between President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, who was still at the White House.
Streets for several blocks surrounding the White House were cordoned off, disrupting local traffic.
A reporter for the local Fox channel affiliate tweeted that a witness had reported seeing officers pull a woman out of the vehicle’s window at gunpoint.
He posted a photograph of what he said was the white Chevrolet minivan that hit the barrier according to the witness.
Live Reuters video showed the minivan with an American flag emblem on the back and with both its rear window and a side window smashed.
The video showed a law enforcement officer checking the underside of the van with a mirror.
CNN, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, said the woman intentionally drove into the barricade.
She was known to the Secret Service, CNN reported, but the action of driving into the barricade was not directed at the president or anyone at the White House.
Mental health issues may have been a factor, CNN said, citing the sources.