White House

Woman Attempts to Trespass at White House for Second Straight Fourth of July: Police

For the second straight year, the U.S. Secret Service arrested a South Carolina woman trying to break onto White House grounds on the Fourth of July, police said.

Alicia Keppler was arrested early Tuesday morning while running along the south fence line of the White House, seeking to jump on to the grounds, according to police reports. Keppler scaled a bike rack security barrier, the reports said.

Keppler, 32, ignored orders from the Secret Service to back away from the security barrier near the fence line and was forcefully taken to the ground by an officer, according to court records filed by the officer. In his court filing, the Secret Service officer said Keppler refused to identify herself after her arrest and was not carrying identification.

“At no time did the individual gain access to the actual White House grounds,” a Secret Service spokesman said.

Keppler is being held at the D.C. jail without bond pending a hearing in U.S. District Court Monday afternoon.

The incident occurred exactly one year after Keppler was arrested for another attempt to trespass on White House property. Her July 4, 2016, attempt occurred at the White House Ellipse, along the east side of 17th Street NW, according to court records. The case was dismissed when Keppler agreed to enter a diversion program and was ordered to undergo mental health services.

Her attorney declined to comment, including on why Keppler has been twice accused of attempting to trespass on the Fourth of July.

Keppler resides in South Carolina, according to a court official.

She has a history of incidents on White House grounds and is known to the Secret Service, according to arrest reports. In addition to her July 4 arrests, Keppler was arrested for trying to unlawfully enter the grounds during the March 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll. The arrest report said Keppler approached the appointment gate, claiming to have an appointment. According to the arrest report, she ignored orders to step back. She attempted to run past security officers and was tackled and placed into custody, according to the officer’s report.

A court had issued an order Keppler stay away from the White House earlier in 2016, after another trespassing attempt at the White House. During that incident, she was accused of flailing her arms and screaming at officers while handcuffed near the southeast gate.

The arrests of Keppler are the latest in a string of attempts to breach security at the White House. An I-Team review of prosecutions handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia showed at least 20 prosecutions of people arrested for breaching security since 2014. A majority of the cases involved people for whom mental health screenings were ordered. Several of the cases, including Keppler's, involved multiple attempts spanning several months.

Former Secret Service officer Robert Caltabiano said the agency often arrests repeat offenders breaching security.

“There really isn't a lot, at times, the government can do to hold them," he said. "They can arrest (the offender) for trespassing, and if there's no security component of threatening against the president, the reality is they're going to be released. And guess what? They do it again."

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