Secret Service Director Julia Pierson says the front door to the White House now locks automatically in a security breach and that officers and agents are allowed to use “lethal force” to stop someone from getting into the White House.
Pierson told a House panel that the switch to automatic locks at the White House’s north door was made after an Army veteran jumped the fence on Sept. 19 and made his way into the interior of the building through two unlocked doors.
She was not clear about whether the Secret Service is authorized to shoot people trying to jump over the White House fence. Bus says they can shoot if there is an imminent threat to them or others.
Pierson says her agency showed restraint when they did not shoot Omar J. Gonzalez as he jumped the fence and ran across the front lawn into the executive mansion on Sept. 19. But she also says the security plan wasn’t executed properly that day.
A Secret Service agent was attempting to lock one of the doors manually when Gonzalez knocked the agent down, Pierson told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Tuesday. Officials say Gonzalez then ran into the White House before he was tackled near the Green Room and was later discovered to be carrying a knife.