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Homeless man held after jumping White House fence

03 august 2011, 17:13
The White House. ©RIA Novosti
The White House. ©RIA Novosti
A homeless man jumped the White House fence Tuesday triggering a security alert, but was quickly stopped by the US Secret Service and arrested, AFP reports.

Two agents swiftly approached the man with their rifles drawn at him as he lay face down on the North Lawn of the White House.

The suspect, identified by the Secret Service as 41-year-old homeless man James Dirk Crudup, was swiftly arrested and taken to a Washington police station "where he will be charged with unlawful entry," Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan told AFP.

He was also to be charged with contempt of court, Donovan said, apparently for violating a stay away order from the White House.

Several police vehicles were parked outside the White House gates with their lights flashing, and security personnel could be seen patrolling the compound, including several with body armor and automatic weapons.

Reporters working at the White House were asked to leave the lawn and the platform where television journalists stand for their live shots -- a standard procedure in the event of a security breach.

An AFP reporter saw several security agents with their weapons drawn, including one on the roof peering through binoculars.

Donovan said the suspect had a backpack that was confiscated and examined for possible explosives.

An all-clear was given some 90 minutes after the incident.

CNN was conducting a live shot from the outdoor platform, and aired footage of the man being detained on the grass and then led off the north lawn on the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the mansion, where tourists gather to take pictures.

Protests outside the White House gates are routine and had taken place earlier in the day, but it was not clear whether Crudup had been a participant.

Security breaches involving someone jumping over the White House fence have occurred multiple times in recent years, but it is rare that a major threat to the president arises from such incidents.

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