On Monday night, a 19-year-old man from Chesterfield, Missouri, Sai Varshith Kandula, caused a significant security scare outside the White House. Kandula drove a U-Haul box truck into specific security barriers designated to protect Lafayette Park – to the dismay of the Secret Service, United States Park Police, and the public that happened to be around at the time.
The young man was swiftly detained by Secret Service Uniformed Division members and taken into custody for further investigation. A reported statement made by Anthony Guglielmi, Secret Service Chief of Communications, stated that shortly before 10:00 pm on the same night, the driver crashed into the barriers located at 16th Street. Despite his forceful entrance onto the premises, there were no reported injuries to agents or White House personnel.
Repercussions to Kandula’s actions – resulting in charges of assault with a dangerous weapon; reckless operation of a motor vehicle; threatening to kill, kidnap, or inflict harm on the president, vice president, or family member; destruction of federal property, and trespassing – are still being determined and the cause of the incident is being investigated. Following the event, roads and pedestrian walkways were closed to prevent further disruption of the area.
A law enforcement source briefed on the matter told CBS News that candidates for the U.S. Presidency and other family members were the likely source of Kandula’s threatening statements. In addition, authorities have found no evidence of any previous criminal record or placement on various watch lists. However, a CNN affiliate station reported that a Nazi flag was discovered inside the truck, along with a black backpack and a roll of duct tape.
While the incident was ultimately stopped, the message was clear: security and the need to remain watchful of possible threats to the White House and its staff are paramount. Both the Secret Service and United States Park Police have committed to conducting a thorough investigation into the cause of the crash to protect the public and to ensure events like this do not happen again.