White House intruder not a threat
MIDLAND, Texas (AP) – An Iraq war veteran accused of scaling a fence and making it into the White House before the Secret Service stopped him posed no threat to anyone and needs counselling instead of prosecution, members of his family said yesterday.
Omar Gonzalez, 42, was arrested Friday and is expected in federal court today to face charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon – a small folding knife in this case.
Jerry Murphy, whose mother was married to Gonzalez for several years, said Gonzalez suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and that he needs treatment. He said Gonzalez has been driving around the country and living out of his truck for the past couple of years, and that he always carries his knife.
“I know he’s got heavy artillery, you know?” Murphy added. “He’s got all kinds of weapons and he was trained to use them. I believe if he wanted to make a scene or cause problems, he very well could have. But it’s clear that he didn’t.”
The Secret Service has come under heavy criticism since the embarrassing security breach, which happened when the first family wasn’t at the White House.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson ordered increased surveillance and more officer patrols at the White House, as the agency investigates what went wrong.
The Army said Gonzalez enlisted in July 1997 and remained until completing his service obligation in September 2003. He reenlisted in July 2005 and served until his retirement in late 2012, serving in Iraq from October 2006 to January 2008.
The military does not provide details about a soldier’s disability due to privacy considerations. But Samantha Bell, who is Gonzalez’s ex-wife and Murphy’s mother, said Gonzalez was honourably discharged for medical reasons and suffered from plantar fasciitis on his feet, on which he had had some surgeries. She said he also suffered from PTSD, for which he had been prescribed several medications.