Suspicious Package Discovered At White House
Win McNamee / Getty Images
Carrying a plastic bag containing a "suspicious package," a member of the U.S. Secret Service's uniformed division works near a robot that was sent to investigate the package on the White House grounds Wednesday.
NBC News and news services
updated 3/22/2006 3:59:16 PM ET 2006-03-22T20:59:16

A man tossed a suspicious package onto the North Lawn of the White House on Wednesday, setting off a security alert, and was taken into custody, the Secret Service said.

The man was identified as 36-year-old French national Cyrille Y. Mourotte, according to NBC News. He was charged with disorderly conduct and turned over to District of Columbia police for an arraignment.

After a remote-controlled device was used to probe the package, the Secret Service determined it was not hazardous and sounded the all-clear shortly after noon, about an hour after the incident began, officials said.

“This individual has a done a similar act in the past and he is in custody,” Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur said.

Secret Service officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told NBC News the package consisted of paper and plastic wrapped in a rubber band.

The package was noticed near a fence that runs along Pennsylvania Avenue just after President Bush left in his helicopter from the South Lawn — on the opposite side of the White House — for a trip to Wheeling, W.Va.

“Normal security protocols are in place,” Mazur said while the package was being investigated.

The Secret Service secured the White House and raised its internal alert system by one level during the investigation, a Homeland Security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the review was ongoing.

Reporters, cameramen and photographers were told to remain inside the briefing room while officers investigated.

NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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