White House intruders

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Extensive security measures are used to protect the White House as the official residence (Executive Residence) and office space (West Wing) of the President of the United States. Security is primarily provided by the United States Secret Service. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the restricted airspace above the White House has been expanded and better enforced. Despite security measures such as a fence, however, there have been some people who have managed to gain access to the White House without permission.


Currently, a fence surrounds the White House, but it did not always exist. Though at various points since the time of Thomas Jefferson, various fences and gates were added to shape or constrain public access, greater public access to the White House grounds than was common in comparable European institutions was possible (with some restrictions) up until World War II. After World War II, public access to the White House grounds has been increasingly restricted.[1] During the mid-1990s, the fence was expanded by one block to move traffic farther from the White House to prevent damage from any car bomb.[2]

Successful and attempted intrusions[edit]

A successful intrusion on this list covers those who have made it inside the white house. Attempted intrusions include those who have made it onto the white house lawn or tried to break through or scale the parameter. Also included on this list under attempted intrusions, are incidents that involve shootings towards the white house, and/or incidents outside the perimeter.



  • February 17, 1974 – Robert K. Preston, hovered a stolen helicopter above the grounds and was forced to land it is unknown if he planned to enter the residence.[9]
  • February 1974 – Samuel Byck, planned to hijack a plane and fly it into the white house in an assassination attempt, was shot to death in the plane's cockpit before takeoff.
  • December 25, 1974 – Marshall H. Fields, crashed a Chevrolet Impala into the Northwest Gate of the White House complex surrendered after negotiations without making into the front door.
  • November 26, 1975 into 1976 – Gerald B. Gainous climbed the white house fence four times over a period of a year during the Ford administration.[10]
  • July 27, 1976 – Chester Plummer, scaled the White House fence, armed with a piece of pipe.[11] While advancing towards the White House, he was ordered to stop by a Secret Service officer. After ignoring the order,[12] he was shot by a rookie officer,[13] and died later in the hospital from his wounds and was the first known shooting victim on White House grounds.[14]
  • December 1, 1976 – Steven B. Williams, tried unsuccessfully to crash his truck through the now reinforced steel gates (strengthened after the Marshall Fields incident) and was arrested.[15]
  • October 4, 1978 – Anthony Henry, dressed in a white karate outfit made his way onto the white house lawn armed with knives was arrested after being clubbed and gang tackled by police.[16]
  • March 3, 1984 – David Mahonski, after previously warned to stay away from the white house for making threats against the president he was noticed in front of the south grounds of the White House by security agents who then approached him. He pulled a sawed-off shotgun from beneath his coat, and one of the agents shot him in the arm with a revolver. He was subsequently arrested.
  • March 15, 1985 – Chester Ramsey, was caught and arrested by secret service agents while trying to climb over the fence.[17]
  • August 21, 1986 – Rosita Bourbon, scaled the northeast fence of the White House with a makeshift ladder and was arrested shortly afterwards.[18][19]
  • November 21, 1987 – Mike Davis, an unarmed man scaled a White House fence and made it to near the foot of a stairway that leads to the West Wing where President Reagan's office was before being arrested.[20]
  • September 12, 1994 – Frank Eugene Corder, crashed a stolen Cessna 150 onto the South Lawn of the White House, apparently trying to hit the building he was the sole person who was killed.[21]
  • October 29, 1994 – Francisco Martin Duran, took a semi-automatic rifle and fired 29 rounds at the White House before being tackled to the ground and arrested.[22]
  • May 24, 1995 – Leland William Modjeski, was shot on the White House grounds after scaling the fence. Authorities doubted however that he intended to harm the president and he appeared to have psychiatric problems.[23]
  • February 8, 2001 – Robert W. Pickett, fired shots outside the White House fence and was then shot in the knee and arrested by secret service agents.[24]
  • October 4, 2005 – Shawn A. Cox, after scaling the fence was immediately captured by secret service officers.[25]
  • February - April, 2006 – Brian Lee Patterson, jumped the White House fence (including this incident) a total of four times.[26][27]
  • October 13, 2006 – Alexis Janicki, climbed over the fence while in possession of a bag of marijuana.[28]
  • March 16, 2007 – Catalino Lucas Diaz, scaled the fence with a package and threatened officers that he had a bomb. Catalino was arrested after determining that he had no dangerous weapon.[29][30]
  • June 9, 2009 – Pamela Morgan, jumped the fence onto the northeast corner of the grounds while carrying a backpack. Morgan was arrested immediately and her backpack later searched and found to contain nothing dangerous.[31]
  • November 11, 2011 – Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez was taken into custody in Indiana, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) in connection with bullets fired near the White House- at least two of which impacted- on Constitution Avenue, NW (near The Ellipse and the closed Washington Monument), at least one of which was stopped by bullet-proof glass, the other having hit the exterior; it is unknown whether the White House was a target or was even involved- the President and First Lady were in Hawaii for the APEC Summit meeting at the time. A suspect was seen fleeing into Virginia from the 23rd Street, NW, entrance to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge from an abandoned car left near there.[32]
  • June 9, 2013 – Joseph Clifford Reel, crashed a driverless jeep down Pennsylvania Avenue causing it to crash into the gate as a diversion so he could spray paint the side of the White House. Joseph was eventually arrested in the north courtyard and sentenced to 3 years in prison.[33]
  • March 30, 2014 – Unidentified male, caught and arrested after climbing over the fence.[34]
  • August 7, 2014 – An unknown toddler squeezed though the fence, and was returned to his parents.[35]
  • September 11, 2014 – A man wearing a Pikachu hat scaled the fence and entered the North Lawn where he was arrested.[36]
  • October 22, 2014 – Dominic Adesanya, jumped the fence onto the north lawn and was quickly taken down by two security dogs while punching and kicking them and arrested by the secret service. Dominic was later ordered by a judge to a mental health facility.[37][38]


  1. ^ Public Report of the White House Security Review, chapter 4, "The Evolution of Presidential Security" (1995).
  2. ^ "White House Secure". Sun Sentinel. May 25, 1995. Retrieved November 29, 2009. The radar on the White House roof has been upgraded to protect against kamikaze planes, Pennsylvania Avenue has been blocked to foil car bombers – and still a gunman can clamber over the wrought-iron fence and sprint to within 50 feet of the president's windows. The response from the men and women who guard the White House: Unless you want to turn the president's house into a walled-off fortress, there just isn't much you can do about "jumpers" – except try to stop them on the lawn. 
  3. ^ "Intruder in White House Is Arrested After Forcing His Way In to See Taft". The New York Times. April 13, 1912. Retrieved February 5, 2009. 
  4. ^ Clarity, James F., and Warren Weaver Jr. "Briefing: Disavowal of Intruder." New York Times 31 January 1985.
  5. ^ "Feds: Couple crashed Obama's state dinner". CNN. November 26, 2009. Retrieved November 26, 2009. 
  6. ^ Cristina Corbin (November 26, 2009). "Who Are the White House Party Crashers?". Fox News. 
  7. ^ a b Shear, Michael D.; Steve Kenny (September 20, 2014). "Breach Prompts Review of White House Security". nytimes. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  8. ^ Leonnig, Carol D. (September 29, 2014). "White House fence-jumper made it far deeper into building than previously known". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  9. ^ PUBLIC REPORT OF THE WHITE HOUSE SECURITY REVIEW, Federation of American Scientists
  10. ^ Reading Eagle, August 16, 1976, page 6 retrieved 2011-08-07
  11. ^ U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News Publishing Corporation. 1976. 
  12. ^ Philip H. Melanson (2005). The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency. Basic Books. pp. 139–. ISBN 978-0-7867-1617-3. 
  13. ^ Dead Intruder Had History of Rash Behavior, The Miami News, July 27, 1976, p. 3A,
  14. ^ Perlstein, Rick, Culture of Fear: Miriam Carey’s Tragedy, and Our Own, The Nation, October 4, 2013, accessed October 6, 2013
  15. ^ "5 White House 'Attacks' That Didn't End In The Suspects Getting Killed". www.huffingtonpost.com. October 4, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Man with knife holds police at bay on white house lawn". Herald tribune. October 4, 1978. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  17. ^ "White House Intruder Thwarted". latimes.com. March 15, 1985. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  18. ^ "An Arrest at White House". www.nytimes.com. August 22, 1986. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  19. ^ "White House Intruder Arrested". latimes.com. August 21, 1986. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Officers Arrest a Man Outside White House". The New York Times. November 22, 1987. Retrieved February 5, 2009. 
  21. ^ Pear, Robert (September 13, 1994). "CRASH AT THE WHITE HOUSE: THE PILOT; Friends Depict Loner With Unraveling Life". The New York Times. 
  22. ^ Schmitt, Eric (October 30, 1994). "Gunman Shoots at White House From Sidewalk". The New York Times. Retrieved February 5, 2009. 
  23. ^ "Officials Doubt Intruder Meant President Harm". Officials Doubt Intruder Meant President Harm. May 25, 1995. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  24. ^ Sanger, David (February 8, 2001). "Officer Shoots Armed Man Near White House Fence". The New York Times. Retrieved February 5, 2009. 
  25. ^ "Trespasser Scales White House Fence". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 5, 2005. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  26. ^ "Intruder arrested on White House grounds". cnn.com. April 10, 2006. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Man Apprehended on White House Grounds". www.nbcnews.com. April 9, 2006. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  28. ^ Williams, Clarence; Weil, Martin (October 15, 2006). "Man Arrested at White House". Washington Post. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  29. ^ "66-year-old man leaps White House fence". USA Today. March 16, 2007. Retrieved February 1, 2009. 
  30. ^ "66-Year Old Man Leaps White House Fence". The Associated Press via The Washington Post. March 16, 2007. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Fence-jumper immediately apprehended at White House". www.washingtontimes.com. June 9, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  32. ^ Grass, Michael (November 16, 2011). "Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez Arrested: Alleged White House Shooter In Custody In Pennsylvania". Huffington Post. 
  33. ^ Hermann, Peter (January 10, 2014). "Ohio man sentenced to 3 years in prison for launching driverless Jeep at White House". Washington Post. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Official: Man scaled White House fence, arrested". USA Today. 30 March 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  35. ^ "Toddler caught sneaking through White House fence". NY Daily News. Retrieved October 1, 2014. 
  36. ^ "'Pokémon' fan jumps White House fence with Pikachu hat and doll". NY Daily News. Retrieved October 1, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Accused White House Fence-Jumper Dominic Adesanya Shouts in Court". www.nbcnews.com. October 27, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  38. ^ "White House jumper Dominic Adesanya ordered by judge to mental health facility". www.washingtonpost.com. October 27, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 

Further reading[edit]