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Accused White House Fence-Jumper Omar Gonzalez Pleads Not Guilty

He was charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building with a weapon.

The Iraq war veteran accused of jumping the White House fence, dashing into the building with a knife and reaching the East Room before he was tackled pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a three-count federal indictment.

Omar Gonzalez, 42, entered the plea before a Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson in Washington. He is charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building while carrying a weapon, plus two violations of District of Columbia law.

The breach, the latest for the Secret Service, has led at least one member of Congress to call for the resignation of the Secret Service director, Julia Pierson. She told a House committee on Tuesday that the agency’s handling of the intrusion was unacceptable.

At the hearing, prosecutors and lawyers appointed for Gonzalez agreed to his continued detention. The judge, over the strong objection of the defense, ordered a forensic screening to determine Gonzalez’s competency to stand trial.

David Bos, a lawyer for Gonzalez, told reporters that he objected in part because the defense would have no say in who conducts the screening. He told the judge there was no basis for suggesting that Gonzalez was not competent to stand trial.

The judge set the next hearing for Oct. 21.


— Mike Kosnar