WASHINGTON – A motorist was detained by the Secret Service late Saturday night after driving a vehicle that appeared to be suspicious up to a checkpoint near the White House, authorities said. An “on-going criminal investigation” was under way, a Secret Service spokesperson said early Sunday.
The vehicle was driven about 11:05 p.m. to a Secret Service checkpoint at 15th and E Street NW, according to the spokesperson, and the driver was detained by officers from the Secret Service Uniform Division.
They “declared his vehicle suspicious” and “increased their posture of readiness,” the spokesperson said. The checkpoint, with a Secret Service kiosk, is at the southeastern corner of an outer perimeter that encloses the grounds of the White House.
Driving through the checkpoint does not offer access to the White House grounds. The closest part of the South Lawn is about 100 yards away. The White House itself is about a quarter mile away.
The checkpoint is northwest of the Department of Commerce and south of the statue of General William T. Sherman and the Treasury Department.
It was not clear what caused the motorist to be detained or the vehicle to be declared suspicious.
A search of the vehicle is a standard practice in such situations. How long a search might require was not known. Commonly, authorities look for weapons or explosives or both.
Because of the ongoing investigation, the spokesperson said early Sunday, no further details would be provided.
Two people this month have been taken into custody and accused of trying to breach White House security. The more recent event took place earlier Saturday when someone climbed over a crowd-control barrier outside the White House. After that incident, it was reported that the president was not in the White House, but had gone to Florida.
In a more serious incident on March 10, a man made it onto the White House grounds and reportedly spent 16 minutes there before being arrested.
The 15th and E Street checkpoint figured in a fatal incident in 2013. A woman who drove into that checkpoint was later shot by law enforcement officers near the U.S. Capitol.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Martin Weil