Crime

'Troubled' Man Breaches White House Grounds, Arrested (Photo)

| by Denise Recalde

A man wearing a backpack with mace and a letter for President Donald Trump was arrested on the night of March 10 after skirting security at the White House. A Secret Service officer found him near the south entrance to the building, officials said. 

The incident took place just before midnight while the president was in residence, CNN reports. 

The intruder, identified as Jonathan Tran, 26, of California, told security he had an appointment with the president.

"No, I am a friend of the president. I have an appointment," Tran said when an officer made his way towards him, a Washington Metropolitan Police Department report released on March 11 revealed. 

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Tran confessed to jumping the fence of the White House. He has already appeared in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on March 11 and has a U.S. District Court appearance scheduled for March 13, ABC News reports.

He was charged with entering restricted grounds while carrying weapons -- two cans of mace. He was also carrying an Apple laptop, a U.S. passport, a book authored by Trump and a letter to the president, the Daily Mail reports. 

According to Secret Service Officer Wayne Azevedo, in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court, in the letter, "Tran mentioned Russian hackers and said he had information of relevance. Tran alleged that he had been followed, and his 'phone and email communications [had been] read by third parties,' and that he had 'been called schizophrenic.'"   

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Tran's younger brother Brian, 19, called him "troubled" after he was let go by an electrical engineering company.

Brian said his brother had been "living in his car and eating junk food" and additionally said he had been "a very good brother to me."

The intruder was seen "walking from the east side of the south grounds of the White House Complex," then "walking close to the exterior wall of the White House Mansion ... approaching the South Portico Entrance to the White House Mansion," the arrest affidavit reads.

Surveillance video shows Tran jumping a fence near the Treasury Building, which is the neighbor building to the White House, the complaint reads.

Tran hid "behind a White House pillar before proceeding to the South Portico Entrance" at one point, the document states.

The Secret Service is trying to determine how Tran managed to get near the building without being detected, officials said. 

"This is really troubling," said Jonathan Wackrow, an ex-Secret Service agent. "If someone came over the northwest fence of the Treasury complex, what that indicates is they didn't go over just one fence, they went over multiple fences. This has the potential to be a catastrophic breach of the White House complex. This is really disturbing, just the amount of real estate that this intruder was able to gain or bypass on the complex."

"So the Secret Service has to really take a very hard look very quickly as to why weren't other defense measures alerted," Wackrow said.

Several people have managed to get onto White House grounds in recent years. None of them managed to get into the building. 

Sources: CNN, Daily Mail, ABC News / Photo credit: HarshLight/Flickr

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