Omar Gonzalez: White House jumper had knife, is Iraq War veteran.

Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet Who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”

Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet Who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”

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Sept. 21 2014 12:00 PM

Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet Who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”

Members of the Secret Service stand guard as Marine One, carrying President Obama, takes off from south lawn of the White House on July 22.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The man who made it into the White House grounds Friday night and managed to sprint into the executive mansion—the first time that has ever happened—was carrying a pocket knife. More specifically, 42-year-old Omar J. Gonzalez was carrying a “VG-10 black folding knife,” which is a knife with a 3.5-inch serrated blade, according to an affidavit filed in court by a Secret Service officer, reports the Wall Street Journal. The affidavit contradicts initial reports by the agency that the man was unarmed.

Gonzalez served in the military for 18 years and did three tours in Iraq, according to a public defender cited by the Washington Post. Gonzalez reportedly spent six years in Iraq with the Army Special Forces as a sniper. The Army released information on Gonzalez's service on Sunday. The Associated Press with the details:

Gonzalez enlisted in July 1997 and was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, at Fort Hood, Texas. At the time, he listed his home as Puerto Rico.
He was discharged in September 2003 after completing his service obligation.
Gonzalez enlisted a second time, in July 2005, and served until his retirement in late 2012.
During this period, he was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, and the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Ford Hood.
Gonzalez served in Iraq from October 2006 to January 2008, according to the Army.

He appears to have a clean record with no convictions or arrest warrants. And he tested negative for drugs on Saturday. “This is someone who has provided service to his country and shown commitment in his life,” Assistant Public Defender Margarita O’Donnell said.

After he was apprehended, Gonzalez told a Secret Service agent he feared “the atmosphere was collapsing and needed to get the information to the president of the United States so that he could get the word out to the people,” according to the affidavit.

“He’s a very good guy. He is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder,” his former stepson, Jerry S. Murphy, said. “I don’t believe he had any intention in hurting anybody. He has served his country for years.” Murphy said Gonzalez has been living out of his car for the past two years with his two dogs.

Lawmakers said they would investigate the incident. "How anyone, especially in these days of ISIS, when we're concerned about terrorist attacks, someone could actually get into the White House without being stopped is inexcusable," Republican Rep. Peter King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on Fox News Sunday. "He could have had a body bomb, he could have had a vest on. As we know he did have a knife. So this demands a full investigation."

This post has been updated with new information since it was originally published.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.