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White House staff and reporters returned to the building after being briefly evacuated on Friday night because of an intruder on the grounds, a witness said.
President Barack Obama had just left aboard the Marine One helicopter for Camp David, the presidential retreat in nearby Maryland, when armed, uniformed Secret Service personnel ordered the press corps and members of the White House staff to evacuate.
They were allowed back in after about half an hour, the witness said, after being evacuated around 7:30 local time.
A Secret Service officer said the alert was sparked by an intruder who jumped over the White House fence.
The Secret Service identified the suspect as Omar J. Gonzalez, a 42-year-old man from Copperas Cove, Texas. He was charged with unlawful entry into the White House complex and transported to a nearby hospital complaining of chest pain. Attempts to reach Gonzalez or his relatives by phone were unsuccessful.
Although it's not uncommon for people to make it over the White House fence, they're typically stopped almost immediately and rarely get very far. Video from the scene showed the intruder sprinting across the lawn as Secret Service agents shouted at nearby pedestrians to clear the area.
"This situation was a little different than other incidents we have at the White House," Donovan said. "There will be a thorough investigation into the incident."
ccording to an affidavit released by prosecutors, Gonzalez told a Secret Service agent after he was apprehended that "he was concerned that the atmosphere was collapsing and (he) needed to get the information to the president so he could get the word out to the people".