List of White House security breaches
Extensive security measures are used to protect the White House as the official residence (Executive Residence), office space (West Wing) of the President of the United States, and grounds. Security is primarily provided by the United States Secret Service. Since the September 11 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. 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.
Into the White House
- April 13, 1912 – Michael Winter, was arrested after he forced his way into the White House to see William Howard Taft.
- January 20, 1985 – Robert Latta, gained access to the White House by following the 33 members of the Marine Band past security. While carrying an overnight bag, he was able to wander around the Executive Residence for 14 minutes but was apprehended by Secret Service agents.
- November 24, 2009 – Carlos Allen, Michaele Salahi and Tareq Salahi, showed up uninvited to a state dinner for then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
- September 19, 2014 – Omar J. Gonzalez jumped the fence from the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the White House and entered "through the North Portico doors." Upon entering he overpowered a Secret Service officer and ran through most of the main floor before he was tackled by a counter-assault agent.
Onto the grounds
- 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.
- July 27, 1976 – Chester Plummer, scaled the White House fence, armed with a piece of pipe. While advancing towards the White House, he was ordered to stop by a Secret Service officer. After ignoring the order, he was shot by a rookie officer, and died later in the hospital from his wounds and was the first known shooting victim on White House grounds.
- 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.
- August 21, 1986 – Rosita Bourbon, scaled the northeast fence of the White House with a makeshift ladder and was arrested shortly afterwards.
- 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.
- 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 only person killed in the incident.
- 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.
- October 4, 2005 – Shawn A. Cox, after scaling the fence was immediately captured by secret service officers.
- February - April, 2006 – Brian Lee Patterson, jumped the White House fence (including this incident) a total of four times.
- October 13, 2006 – Alexis Janicki, climbed over the fence while in possession of a bag of marijuana.
- 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.
- 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.
- March 30, 2014 – Unidentified male, caught and arrested after climbing over the fence.
- August 7, 2014 – An unknown toddler squeezed though the fence, and was returned to his parents.
- September 11, 2014 – A man wearing a Pikachu hat scaled the fence and entered the North Lawn where he was arrested.
- 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 before being arrested by the Secret Service. He was later ordered by a judge to a mental health facility.
- February 1974 – Samuel Byck, planned to hijack a plane and fly it into the White House in an assassination attempt. He was wounded by two rounds that penetrated the aircraft door's window, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head before police could enter the aircraft.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- March 2, 2015 – An unidentified man dressed in a construction suit tried to enter the White House grounds through the gate at Pennsylvania Avenue near East Executive Avenue in the early morning. He was stopped by Uniformed Division officers and taken into custody.
Site layout and floor plans
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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.
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