A 19-year-old man was arrested Monday night near the White House after intentionally crashing a truck into the protection bollards that are outside Lafayette Park, adjacent to the presidential building estate. The detainee has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless driving of a motor vehicle, threatening to kill, kidnapping or harming a president, vice president or member of their family, destruction of federal property and trespassing, as reported by the National Park Service.
The events occurred at 9:40 p.m. local time when Park Police and Secret Service agents responded to the 1600 block of H Street in Northwest Washington NW when the truck crashed. According to the preliminary investigation, the vehicle, a rental truck, intentionally crashed into the bollards located outside of Lafayette Park. The driver of the vehicle has been identified as Sai Varshith Kandula, 19, of Chesterfield, Missouri.
Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for the Secret Service, has indicated through a statement that the incident did not result in injuries to Secret Service or White House personnel. “The cause and manner of the crash remain under investigation. There are street closures and pedestrian crossings are closed while we investigate, ”he added.
The truck is from U-Haul, a Phoenix, Arizona-based rental company for moving trucks, trailers and other vehicles. Agents from the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department searched the truck after the accident. A video posted by WUSA-TV shows a police officer at the scene collecting and inventorying various pieces of evidence from the truck, including a Nazi flag. Authorities have not offered additional details on the possible motive.
This Tuesday morning, there was still a greater police presence than usual around the White House and the area of the crash was still closed to traffic.
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The area is very popular with tourists who want to see the White House from the outside. Although pedestrians can enter the park and approach the fences, traffic for cars is closed and the crash zone is relatively far from the White House.
Lafayette Square has traditionally been one of the country’s most prominent locations for demonstrations of all sizes. The park was closed for nearly a year after federal authorities sealed off the area at the height of national protests over police action following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but reopened in May 2021.
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