White House Intruders

white house, through fence, north side
In recent times, the White House has seen more than its share of episodes with intruders. For instance, between the fall of 1994 and the spring of 1995, these incidents came in all shapes and sizes with unusually high frequency.

On May 26, 1995, Andrew Jopling, scaled a White House fence in what law enforcement authorities called an apparent "cry for attention."

Three days earlier, Leland Mojeski climbed a White House fence and got within 20 yards of the East Wing before he was stopped. Authorities said Mojeski may have wanted to be killed, citing his history of mental illness.

Secret Service
Today, the Secret Service is authorized by law to protect:
  • the President, the Vice President, (or other individuals next in order of succession to the Office of the President), the President-elect and Vice President-elect;
  • the immediate families of the above individuals;
  • former Presidents, their spouses for their lifetimes, except when the spouse re-marries. In 1997, Congressional legislation became effective limiting Secret Service protection to former Presidents for a period of not more than 10 years from the date the former President leaves office.
  • children of former presidents until age 16;
  • visiting heads of foreign states or governments and their spouses traveling with them, other distinguished foreign visitors to the United States, and official representatives of the United States performing special missions abroad;
  • major Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, and their spouses within 120 days of a general Presidential election.

    Source: U.S. Secret Service

  • These two incidents happened shortly after Mr. Clinton closed the two-block section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, following the Oklahoma City bombing in April of that year. The most recent incident took place on the opposite side of the mansion - the back side facing toward the Washington Monument.

    On Sept. 12, 1994, a pilot died when he crashed a small plane on the South Lawn of the White House. Steering a Cessna tolen from a Maryland airport, Frank Eugene Corder, an unemployed truck driver and an unlicensed pilot, flew into the prohibited airspace over the White House in the wee hours of that morning. Corder was killed when he dove the Cessna toward the mansion, crashing it on the South Lawn. His plane hit a tree on the steps of the South Portico, as well as a first-floor corner of the White House. President Clinton and his family were not in the mansion at the time.

    The following month, a man pulled a semiautomatic rifle from under his trench coat and sprayed the front of the White House with bullets. On Oct. 29, 1994, Francisco Martin Duran, a convicted felon, fired at least 29 shots as he ran down the south sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue. Duran was tackled by passersby and restrained by the Secret Service while trying to reload his weapon. No one was injured - and Mr. Clinton, in the White House at the time, was never in danger. The gunman was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.

    In December 1994 alone, the White House saw five incidents. Four of them involved breaches (or would-be breaches) of the mansion's grounds, ranging from fence jumping to a homeless man waving a knife on a sidewalk outside the White House. (That man was shot by police and later died of his injuries.) Then, on Dec. 17, an unidentified person fired at least four bullets at the White House. One went through a dining room window, while others hit near the president's bedroom window on the second floor. No one was injured, but the case is still unsolved.

    Beyond 1600 Pennsylvania Aveneue, in the summer of 1998, a gunman went on a shooting spree in the U.S. Capitol, killing two policemen. Russell Eugene Weston, 43, has been held since then. He has not stood trial for the slayings because doctors have said he is mentally ill and unable to do so.

    Finally, in March 1981, a gunman shot President Reagan, White House press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent, and a D.C. policeman outside a Washington hotel as the president was getting into his motorcade. Reagan, the agent, and the officer recovered; Brady was partially paralyzed. The shooter, John Hinckley, Jr., was found not guilty by reason of insanity and remains confined to a mental hospital to this day.

    CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that Andrew Jopling was carrying an unloaded weapon, was shot and wounded, scuffled with the Secret Service, and asked to see President Clinton. Those facts related to a different individual who scaled the White House fence three days before Jopling scaled it. This story has been corrected. We regret the errors.
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