White House

Man Wearing American Flag Arrested After Jumping White House Fence

Norton: "Failure of White House fence is baffling and discouraging"

A man wearing an American flag and carrying a binder in his mouth was arrested after he jumped the fence at the White House Thursday afternoon, police said.

Uniformed officers from the U.S. Secret Service quickly apprehended Joseph Caputo, of Stamford, Connecticut, on the North Lawn about 2:45 p.m., as the first family spent the Thanksgiving holiday inside the White House.

“Even though it was a national holiday, the Secret Service showed it could move quickly to apprehend a fence jumper,” House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said in a statement. “However, the failure of the new White House perimeter fence, despite its recent modifications with spikes, is both baffling and discouraging."

Norton, a senior member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said she and other members of Congress were shown samples of the spikes bolted to the taller fence in the summer and were assured no one would be able to jump the enhanced fence.

Caputo was the first person to jump the fence since the spikes were installed.

Victoria Pena of Houston said the man was standing with other people visiting the White House compound when he rushed toward the fence carrying what appeared to be a binder.

"I just heard him take a big, deep breath and whisper to himself, `All right, let's do this,' and he took off,'' Pena said. "It was chaotic. Everyone around us was yelling, and kids were crying. It was pretty unexpected."

"Casually, I'm just there taking pictures and I see a ninja coming through, climbing,” witness Amar Marwaha of London told News4.

Security personnel and guard dogs ran toward the man and he lay on the grass awaiting them, Pena said.

Charges are pending.

The White House was locked down until about 6:30 p.m.

The Secret Service also is investigating a 2003 Ford Taurus with Connecticut license plates with "Caputs" on them that was parked more than three miles away from the White House at Hains Point. Law enforcement sources said it's Caputo's car.

It was the seventh time in two years someone has jumped the White House fence. The most serious incident was in September 2014, when Omar Gonzalez made it all the way into the White House carrying a knife. About a month later, Dominic Adesanya scaled the perimeter before the K9s took him down. Then in April, Jerome Hunt took a bus from California just to jump the fence in D.C.


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The National Park Service is in the process of enhancing security around the White House. Permanent changes to the White House fence and checkpoints are expected in fall 2016.

Norton will ask for a meeting with Secret Service officers early next week.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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