‘A decorated Iraq war veteran carrying a small knife who scaled the fence around the White House, entering just inside the mansion’s front door, is a “good guy” and well-liked, family members said, but is in need of post-traumatic stress treatment.
On Friday, Omar Gonzalez, 42, breached the security fence surrounding the heavily-guarded White House grounds, ran to the north portico door, and entered where he was quickly apprehended and arrested by the Secret Service. He is expected to appear in federal court on Monday to face charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon, a 3 ½ inch-long serrated blade in this case. The charges could result in as many as 10 years in prison.
According to a criminal complaint, Gonzalez wanted to warn President Barack Obama – who had left the White House grounds with his daughters not long before the security breach – of a “falling atmosphere.” First Lady Michelle Obama was not in the building, either.
“[Gonzalez] was concerned that the atmosphere was collapsing and [he] 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 an affidavit released by prosecutors.
On Monday federal prosecutor David Mudd revealed that Gonzalez had over 800 rounds of ammunition in his car. It became known that the vet also was arrested in July with a sniper rifle and a map marking the executive mansion, according to Reuters.
Gonzalez’s ex-wife, Samantha Bell, and her adult children said he needs counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rather than prosecution.
“Omar is a good guy; he’s just got some issues that he needs help with,” she said, according to The Guardian. “I think this is a cry out for help, what he’s done.”
According to the US Army, Gonzalez enlisted in July 1997, completing his service obligation in September 2003. He reenlisted in July 2005 and served until retiring in late 2012. He served in Iraq from October 2006 to January 2008, earning decorations including an Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Reuters reported.
Bell said Gonzalez was honorably discharged for medical reasons. He had multiple surgeries, she said, for plantar fasciitis. He was also prescribed several medications for PTSD, she added.’