White House intruder was on grounds 15 minutes before arrest - CNN

An SUV parked outside of the South Portico on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on March 11, 2017.
An SUV parked outside of the South Portico on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on March 11, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - A man who scaled the White House fence last week was on the property's south grounds for at least 15 minutes before he was detained, CNN reported on Friday (March 17), citing an unnamed US Secret Service source.

Jonathan Tran, 26, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for entering the grounds without permission.

Tran, from Milpitas, California, set off several alarms after jumping the fence but was able to avoid other sensors before he was discovered just steps from the main building, CNN reported.

 

The network also reported that Tran was spotted "looming around" Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue, where the White House is located, nearly six hours before his arrest.

A Secret Service spokesman said the agency does not comment on ongoing criminal investigations.

The incident prompted Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House of Representatives oversight committee, to request that Secret Service Acting Director William Callahan provide a briefing on Monday.

In a letter to Callahan on Friday, Chaffetz referred to allegations that Tran moved undetected around the grounds "for a considerable amount of time."

"The Committee has longstanding concerns regarding repeated security incidents at USSS-protected facilities," Chaffetz wrote. He noted that a 2015 committee report on the Secret Service found 143 breaches and attempted breaches over a 10-year period.

President Donald Trump was inside the residence at the time of the security breach late on March 10.

Tran told federal agents that he was a friend of the president and had an appointment, according to court documents. He was carrying two cans of mace, a US passport, a computer and one of Trump's books, authorities said.

Trump commended the Secret Service for doing a "fantastic job" apprehending Tran.

Tran was released on his own recognisance on Monday and returned to California, where he must submit to GPS monitoring until his next hearing in Washington.

The intrusion was the latest in a series of breaches at the White House in recent years. Security has been boosted, including the installation in 2015 of sharp spikes on top of the black iron fence that circles the 7ha property.