Officials said Tuesday that the Missouri man, 19, accused of ramming a truck into barriers close to the White House, made incriminating comments to investigators suggesting he intended to harm the president.
U.S. Park Police identified the driver as Sai Varshith Kandula of Chesterfield on Tuesday morning.
The allegations against Kandula for allegedly “threatening to kill, kidnap, inflict harm on a president, vice president, or family member,” according to a Secret Service representative, are the result of statements he made to numerous law enforcement agencies.
According to Tuesday’s statement from Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, President Joe Biden was inside the White House when the truck crashed outside. On Monday night, he met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to review the debt ceiling.
However, it was unclear if Biden was made aware of the incident as it happened. According to Jean-Pierre, the Secret Service and Park Police briefed him on Tuesday morning.
She told reporters, “He’s relieved that no one was injured last night and grateful to the agent and law enforcement officer who responded so quickly,”
According to the agency representative, Secret Service investigators interviewed the suspect on Monday night as part of the probe, which also entails the FBI, U.S. Capitol Police, and United States Park Police.
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Kandula was also charged with trespassing, assault with a dangerous weapon, and careless driving.
According to preliminary evidence, Kandula “intentionally crashed” into the bollards outside Lafayette Park, according to the authorities. Authorities removed a Nazi flag from the scene of the incident.
A law enforcement official told NBC News that the suspect was quickly apprehended despite threatening remarks about the White House. The official claimed without going into further detail that the truck did not contain any explosives or weapons.
When asked what they thought, the official responded: “I don’t think there’s any place for a Nazi flag or the statements that he made.”
Just before 10 p.m. ET, the white U-Haul box truck struck the barriers on the north side of Lafayette Square, a short distance from the White House.
A passerby who witnessed the incident appeared to have captured it on his cellphone as a 26-foot U-Haul truck jumped a curb but could not pass through sidewalk barriers.
According to Anthony Guglielmi, the Secret Service’s chief of communications, “There were no injuries to any Secret Service or White House personnel and the cause and manner of the crash remain under investigation.”
In a later statement published to Twitter, Guglielmi claimed that Washington D.C. police had determined the truck to be safe and that “preliminary investigation reveals the driver may have intentionally struck the security barriers.”
The truck has been deemed safe by @DCPoliceDept & preliminary investigation reveals the driver may have intentionally struck the security barriers at Lafayette Square. Charges will be filed by the United States Park Police with investigative support from the #SecretService.
— Anthony Guglielmi (@SecretSvcSpox) May 23, 2023
A photo of a red flag with a swastika in the shape of a Nazi star that was lying on the ground next to the van was released by the Reuters news agency.
According to Reuters, which cited both a witness and its own photographer on the scene, the items that appeared to have been taken from the truck were placed on the sidewalk and later seized by police.
Later, in video footage, a robot was seen opening the truck’s back, which appeared to be empty.
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