The Secret Service officer who finally tackled White House fence-jumper Omar Gonzalez wasn’t even on duty, the Washington Post reports.
According to officials familiar with the incident, the Secret Service agent who stopped Gonzalez, who had a knife in his pocket, just happened to be walking by when he saw Gonzalez. The agent was on his way out of the White House at the time. Had he not been there by sheer coincidence, Gonzalez could have made it even further into the White House.
The agent was on the security detail for President Barack Obama’s daughters, who had left the White House several minutes before Gonzalez broke in. There was not an agent posted at the door to the Green Room, where he stopped Gonzalez.
“There’s no telling how long this guy could have run around if the detail guy hadn’t happened to be there,” an anonymous person told the Post.
Secret Service director Julia Pierson faced the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Tuesday morning, but did not tell the committee that the agent who tackled Gonzalez wasn’t on duty or at his post.
Pierson testified Tuesday that the Secret Service had known for years that the White House fence was not capable of keeping out intruders. (RELATED: Secret Service Was Concerned For Years That White House Fence Was Not Secure)
After jumping the insecure fence and making through the unlocked front door, Gonzalez then overpowered a female Secret Service officer, who was at her post, and wasn’t stopped until the off-duty agent managed to tackle him. He ran through the White House foyer and into the East Room, making it all the way across the 80-foot conference room before being stopped. (RELATED: White House Fence Jumper Pushed Past Female Guard)It was also by chance, perhaps, that Gonzalez chose to rush into the East Room, while running right past the stairway that leads just half a flight up to the Obama family’s living area. There is not a Secret Service officer assigned to guard those steps while the family isn’t at the White House.