Omar Jose Gonzalez, the man arrested earlier this month for charging into the White House after hopping its front fence, made it farther into the building than previously reported, according to the Washington Post.
Gonzalez, who was armed with a small knife and had over 800 rounds of ammunition in his car, reportedly managed to sprint past at least one Secret Service guard posted inside the residence before passing a staircase leading to the Obama's living room. He then ran into the White House's East Room, where he was finally tackled by a counter-assault agent.
An alarm box designed to alert officers of an intruder had been disabled at the request of the White House's usher's office, according to a Secret Service official who spoke to the Post. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, (R-Utah), chairman of a House Oversight subcommittee on Homeland Security, told the Post that whistleblowers said the office had complained about the boxes malfunctioning and being "disruptive."
The alarm boxes, which officers call "crash boxes," are key pieces of the agency's first-alert system, according to former agents and officials. If they spot an intruder, officers are trained to hit the large red button on the nearest box — sending an alert to every post on the complex about the location of an incursion, and piping sound from that location to other boxes around the property.
"If true, the fact that crash boxes were muted to avoid being 'disruptive' is not due to a lack of resources or an insufficient number of checkpoints or barriers," Chaffetz said.
The disabled alarm box was reportedly just one of several failings by the Secret Service. From the Post:
In this incident, a plainclothes surveillance team was on duty that night outside the fence, meant to spot jumpers and give early warning before they made it over. When that team didn't notice Gonzalez, there was an officer in a guard booth on the North Lawn. When that officer couldn't reach Gonzales, there was supposed to be an attack dog, a specialized SWAT team and a guard at the front door — all at the ready.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, who has described the security breach as "unacceptable," will testify at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesday.
[Image via AP]