On September 19, 2014, Omar Jose Gonzalez jumped the White House fence and made it inside the executive mansion while carrying a knife.
Gonzalez sprinted through the front door and made it much farther than previously known. He overpowered a Secret Service officer and ran through much of the main floor before being tackled at the doorway to the Green Room.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the oversight panel’s subcommittee on national security called the incident a “failure of leadership” by the Secret Service.
“The agency needs a solution that goes deeper than more fences and more people,” Chaffetz said. “It must examine what message is being sent to the men and women who protect the president when their leader sacrifices security to appease superficial concerns of White House ushers.”
A Secret Service official, on the condition of anonymity, explained that an alarm box near the front entrance had been muted at what officers believed was a request from the usher’s office. It was also explained that the usher’s office was concerned the boxes were frequently malfunctioning and unnecessarily sounding off, so they turned them down because they were noisy.
According to the Washington Post, breaches of the White House fence have become more common, but most jumpers are tackled by Secret Service officers guarding the complex before they get even a third of the way across the lawn. Gonzalez is the first person known to have jumped the fence and made it inside the executive mansion.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the committee’s chair stated, “An intruder walked in the front door of the White House. That is amazing and unacceptable. Common sense tells us this was a significant security failure, not an instance of praiseworthy restraint.”
Changes are being made to make sure the security of the White House and its residents are much better. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson comments, “It’s clear that our security plan was not executed properly. I take full responsibility. What happened is unacceptable and it will never happen again.” She said she is committed to a full review and implementing recommended changes.