WASHINGTON — The intruder who entered the White House made it past the front door and all the way through the East Room, much farther than previously disclosed, a federal law enforcement official said Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
Omar Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, climbed the fence on Pennsylvania Avenue on Sept. 19 and sprinted across the lawn toward the White House, then entered through the unlocked front door. Authorities said they found a folding knife with a 3.5-inch blade on him.
President Barack Obama had left about 10 minutes earlier that Friday night with his family to go to Camp David for the weekend.
The new revelations about how far Gonzalez had made it in the White House were first reported by The Washington Post.
Earlier reports said Gonzalez was stopped by a security guard after going through the front door.
The revelations come a day after the White House defended the Secret Service in the wake of a newspaper investigation detailing how the agency fumbled its response to a gunman firing upon the White House in 2011, while Obama’s younger daughter and his mother-in-law were inside.
In that case, a gunman a few blocks away hit a window on the second floor of the White House very close to the first family’s formal living room. “At least seven bullets struck the upstairs residence of the White House, flying some 700 yards across the South Lawn,” the Post reported.
The gunman was arrested days later, but according to the report, it took the Secret Service five days to acknowledge that bullets had hit the White House. Only after a housekeeper noticed broken glass did the Secret Service realize bullets had hit the residential quarters.
The Secret Service has come under intense scrutiny in recent years. In 2012, some agents were involved in a prostitution scandal in Colombia ahead of the president’s visit there.