The man who breached White House security last month burst through the front door and raced through several rooms before he was finally tackled, reports and officials say.
The new details show Omar Gonzales, who was armed with a small knife, penetrated farther into the building than previously disclosed, running through much of the presidential mansion’s main floor.
The new account of the September 19 incident is in stark contrast with the original Secret Service statement that the man was “physically apprehended after entering the White House North Portico doors”.
Gonzalez jumped over the fence and sprinted toward the front door. Then, under the newly disclosed details:
:: He ran past the guard at the front door
:: Ran across the main hall
:: Turned a corner to pass a staircase leading up to the Obamas’ living quarters
:: Entered the East Room, which is about halfway across the first floor
:: Reached the other side of the room, up to the door to the Green Room, at which point he was tackled by a counter-assault agent.
The East Room is a vast ceremonial space sometimes used for presidential addresses. It was there, for example, that the President announced Osama bin Laden had been killed.
The Green Room is often used for receptions.
The Washington Post, which first reported on the new details, said an alarm box near the front entrance had been muted, leaving interior personnel unaware of the intrusion before the suspect burst through the open front door.
The security breach is expected to dominate questioning when Secret Service Director Julia Pierson appears before a House committee today.
She has ordered an investigation into the incident and a review of security measures in and around the White House.
Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz, who chairs a House subcommittee on national security oversight, said he had received the details on the breach by whistleblowers.
President Barack Obama and his family had just left the White House, but the incident raised questions over the level of security of a building that should be among the best protected in the world.
It also rekindled questions over the Secret Service, which has been plagued by embarrassing incidents over the past few years.
“I’m worried that over the last several years, security has gotten worse – not better,” Mr Chaffetz said.
Gonzalez, 42, a decorated Iraqi war veteran, was charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon.
He had hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his car.
It has emerged Gonzalez was on the Secret Service radar as early as July when state troopers arrested him in Virginia.
They said he had an illegal sawn-off shotgun and a map of Washington tucked inside a Bible with a circle around the White House and other monuments.
Gonzalez was interviewed by the Secret Service but they were unable to hold him and he was released on bail.
He was stopped and questioned again on 25 August while walking along the south fence of the White House.
He had a hatchet but no firearms, and he was not arrested on that occasion.
Source: SKY News