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Teen arrested after crashing truck into security barrier by White House



A man has been arrested after crashing a U-Haul truck into a security barrier near the White House on Monday night in what authorities believe may be an intentional incident.

The driver allegedly smashed into the barrier near the north side of Lafayette Square on Monday around 10pm, the Secret Service said in a statement.

He was identified as 19-year-old Sai Varshith Kandula, of Chesterfield, Missouri, and is facing multiple charges; including threatening to kill or harm a president, vice president or family member, US Park Police said.

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A box truck is seen crashed into a security barrier at a park across from the White House, Monday night, May 23, 2023 in Washington.

After the crash, Kandula exited the truck with a Nazi flag and started shouting as Park Police and Secret Service officers approached him, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

When he was questioned by investigators, Kandula said he was there to take over the government and wanted to kill President Joe Biden, the people said.

The people were not authorised to publicly discuss specific details of the investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

"These are very serious allegations and charges indeed," 9News US Correspondent Jonathan Kearsley told Today.

"A U-haul truck driven by a 19-year-old repeatedly rammed into security barriers north of the White House.

"Eventually the secret service moved in."

The Secret Service said there were no injuries to any agency or White House personnel.

A witness, Chris Zaboji, said the driver smashed into the barrier at least twice.

Zaboji, a 25-year-old pilot who lives in Washington, was finishing a run close by Lafayette Square when he heard the loud crash of the U-Haul truck hitting the barrier.

He said he took out his phone and captured the moment the truck struck the barrier again before he heard sirens approaching.

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The driver of a U-Haul who crashed into a security barrier in Lafayette Square near the White House Monday night was arrested on multiple charges.

"When the van backed up and rammed it again, I decided I wanted to get out of there," he said.

A preliminary investigation revealed the driver :may have intentionally struck the barrier", the agency later said.

Kandula made threatening comments regarding the White House at the scene, including that he wanted to kidnap and harm President Joe Biden, law enforcement sources told CNN.

He also is facing charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, destruction of federal property and trespassing, Park Police said.

The White House said Biden was not in danger during the incident.

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told CNN's Kate Bolduan that it was "difficult to know for sure" what the suspect's motivations were and that the incident was still being investigated.

Video taken by a witness showed the 7.9-metre moving truck stopped on the sidewalk near Lafayette Square before the driver accelerates and crashes into a set of security bollards that ring the White House complex to prevent unauthorised vehicular traffic.

After the crash, the truck was searched by bomb technicians and no explosives or incendiary devices were found, a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation told CNN.

Video from CNN affiliate WUSA shows a remotely operated police robot approaching the rear of the truck and lifting the cargo door, followed by an FBI bomb technician who inspected the vehicle.

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A Park Police officer was later seen taking inventory of the U-Haul truck, packing up several pieces of evidence. Among the items that appear to be from the truck are a Nazi flag, a black backpack and a roll of duct tape.

The cargo area of the moving truck appeared empty.

The incident prompted road closures as authorities investigated the crash, and the nearby Hay-Adams hotel was evacuated at the request of the Secret Service, a hotel employee told CNN.

The hotel guests and employees were allowed back in when police deemed it safe a short time later.

The FBI's National Capital Response Squad is assisting Park Police and the Secret Service in the investigation.

Former high school classmates of Kandula described him as quiet and someone who didn't get into trouble.

"He was generally a quiet guy who just did his own thing," former classmate Sujay Vadderaju told CNN.

Vadderaju, who graduated from Marquette High School in 2022 with Kandula, said he played on the tennis team for a time. Vadderaju didn't know Kandula well but recognised his photo.

Errion Barfield, another former classmate of Kandula's at Marquette High, described him as a "good dude" who "never got in trouble" and "never made a scene in school."


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