White House Intruder Escaped Capture for Nearly 17 Minutes

Secret Service says the man had two cans of Mace and a letter to Trump
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2017 11:14 AM CDT
White House Intruder Escaped Capture for Nearly 17 Minutes
Secret Service agents guard on the roof of the White House earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The man who snuck onto White House grounds last week evaded capture for nearly 17 minutes while inside the security perimeter, the Secret Service announced Friday. It gets worse. Rep. Jason Chaffetz says the man got close enough to the White House to peer through a window and "rattle" a door handle, CBS News reports. It's unclear if the door was locked. According to the Washington Post, President Trump was inside the White House at the time. "That's why we spend billions of dollars on personnel and dogs and technologies and fences and undercover people and video surveillance," a disbelieving Chaffetz tells CNN. The Secret Service hasn't explained why it took so long to capture the man or why he was able to breach security in the first place.

Jonathan Tran has been charged with entering or remaining on restricted grounds while carrying a dangerous weapon. The 26-year-old from California, who allegedly had two cans of Mace in his backpack, faces 10 years in prison. In addition to the Mace, authorities say Tran had a US passport, a book about Trump, and a letter addressed to Trump regarding Russian hackers. He claimed to be a "friend of the president." Tran allegedly crossed three barriers—one of them 8 feet tall—to get onto White House grounds. A source tells CNN he set off multiple alarms, but no one responded to them. The Secret Service says its agents are "extremely disappointed and angry" about the incident. An investigation is ongoing. (Read more White House security stories.)

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