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White House Lockdown Prompted By Robbery Suspect Who Jumped Fence

It doesn't appear that the alleged purse thief had any idea he was jumping a fence to the White House complex Tuesday.
Image: Uniformed Secret Service agents patrol the top of the White House as seen from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington
Uniformed Secret Service agents patrol the top of the White House as seen from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 17, 2015. According to the Secret Service a letter sent to the White House tentatively tested positive for cyanide. The letter was received at an off-site mail screening facility on March 16 and additional testing Tuesday returned a "presumptive positive" for cyanide. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)Jacquelyn Martin / AP

A man who hopped a fence near the White House grounds Tuesday, prompting a security lockdown, was fleeing after stealing a woman’s purse, officials said.

The lockdown began at around 4 p.m. and was lifted by around 4:30 p.m. The Secret Service said the White House was placed under a state of lockdown called a "condition yellow."

Tourists were cleared from Lafayette Park, which is directly north of the White House.

A D.C. Fire Department spokesman said a man jumped a fence outside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, widely known as the Old Executive Office Building, at 17th and G Streets and cut his hand. EMTs responded to treat the man and he was in the custody of the Secret Service.

An official familiar with the situation said the man took a woman’s purse around 3:45 p.m. on 17th Street near Pennsylvania Avenue and hopped the fence after fleeing and spotting Secret Service Uniformed Division officers.

The Secret Service said the man jumped the fence at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at 3:55 p.m. and was taken into custody without incident.

It doesn’t appear that the man had any idea he was hopping a fence to the White House complex, the official said.

"Initial investigation indicates the individual was fleeing from the scene of a robbery," the Secret Service said in a statement.

The building is west of the White House, and the man got nowhere near a fence separating that area from the White House grounds. D.C. Fire and EMS said the man was being taken for an evaluation.

On Thanksgiving, a man draped in an American flag scaled a fence at the White House and was arrested. His attorney said he was trying to "deliver a message."

On Sept. 19, 2014, an Army veteran with a folding knife jumped the fence and made it all the way into the East Room of the White House before he was tackled. Officials found rifles, ammunition and a tomahawk in his car.

Omar Gonzalez was sentenced to 17 months in prison in June. Federal prosecutors at his sentencing said he had "a history of encounters with law enforcement where he has described paranoid delusions."

The 2014 incident led to questions about security at the White House. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned.

White House Press Briefing Room Evacuated
Lafayette Park in front of the White House on June 9, 2015. The White House was placed on lockdown Tuesday, April 26, 2016 after a possible fence jumper on the premises.Anadolu Agency / Getty Images