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WASHINGTON (AP) — Secret Service agents in Virginia and Washington earlier this summer twice interviewed an Army veteran accused of climbing over a White House fence during the weekend and running into the executive mansion in the two months before the embarrassing security breach, a federal law enforcement said Tuesday.
In both cases, the official said, the Secret Service concluded there was no evidence that Omar J. Gonzalez was a security threat.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of an ongoing investigation, said agents interviewed Gonzalez after he was arrested during a traffic stop in southwestern Virginia in July. State troopers there said Gonzalez had an illegal sawed off shotgun and a map of Washington tucked inside a Bible with a circle around the White House, other monuments and campgrounds. The troopers seized a stash of other weapons and ammunition found during a search of Gonzalez's car after his arrest.
Agents in Washington spoke to him again in late August after Gonzalez was found near a White House fence with a small hatchet in his waistband.
The official said the agents in Washington searched his car and found camping equipment, two other hatches and empty gun cases but no guns or ammunition.
The official said the Washington agents were aware of the earlier interview when they spoke to Gonzalez in August.
The official said the Secret Service did not consider Gonzalez a threat until he scaled the White House fence Friday evening.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has ordered an investigation of what happened when Gonzalez breached the fence line and was able to run through an unlocked door into the White House.
She is expected to testify about the security breach next week before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/acaldwellap
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