The Missouri resident who allegedly crashed a U-Haul into barriers near the White House Monday night and said he wanted to overthrow the government isn't an American citizen, a prosecutor disclosed during an initial court appearance Wednesday. The prosecutor also said 19-year-old Sai Varshith Kandula isn't a lawful US resident, though a DOJ official later said that he actually is a lawful permanent resident, NBC News reports. A former classmate at Marquette High School in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield says Kandula is a member of the Indian American community. An immigration lawyer says if Kandula is convicted, he'll likely be deported.
Investigators say Kandula, who's being held without bond, rented the truck after flying to the capital from St. Louis on a one -way ticket. He allegedly pulled a swastika flag out of his backpack after crashing the truck into barriers in Lafayette Square. According to court documents, Kandula told authorities he admired the Nazis' "authoritarian nature, eugenics, and their one-world order," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Charging documents state that he told Secret Service agents that he'd been planning the attempt to "seize power" for months and would "kill the president, if that's what I have to do," the AP reports. No weapons or explosives were found in the truck.
US Park Police had said Kandula faced a slew of charges, including threatening to kill the president, but the only charged listed in Wednesday's court appearance was one related to destroying property, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, the Washington Post reports. Former classmate Errion Barfield tells the Post that he's shocked by the allegations, because Kandula never expressed support for Nazis, was "very, very kind," and "wouldn't hurt a fly." He says he's surprised by the alleged threat to kill the president because during the pandemic, Kandula often wore a mask with Biden's name on it. (Read more White House stories.)