UNITED STATES: The U.S. Secret Service stated it had detained the driver of a rented truck that collided into security barricades close to the White House on Monday night, perhaps intentionally, although there were no injuries or lingering dangers.
Authorities found a Nazi swastika flag that appeared to have come from the truck that crashed through the gates at Lafayette Square, adjacent to the White House grounds, a witness said.
Police gathered the flag and plastic evidence bags that had been left out on the pavement after the collision and put them in the back of the U-Haul, as reported by media outlets.
Anthony Guglielmi, the Secret Service’s chief of communications, posted on Twitter that “a preliminary investigation reveals the driver may have intentionally struck the security barriers at Lafayette Square.”
He also said that the Secret Service would assist the U.S. Park Police with their investigation before filing charges.
WUSA television showed footage of a box-shaped U-Haul truck halted next to a line of steel bollards while uniformed law enforcement personnel and a dog approached the vehicle. A remote-controlled robot forced open the truck’s rear door, exposing a dolly but no other obviously loaded items.
A brief video of the vehicle crashing into the barricades was released on social media by Chris Zaboji, a witness to the collision. The driver crashed once but then struck the barriers again, he stated.
Zaboji, a 25-year-old pilot for an airline who resides in Washington, stated he was returning home after his final lap on the National Mall when he heard a tremendous collision.
“I looked back and saw that the U-Haul van had rammed into the barricade. I backed away behind a guy on a golf cart and took the video on my phone. After I saw it rammed again, I didn’t want to be anywhere near the truck and left,” said Zaboji.
No one from the White House or Secret Service was hurt, according to a prior tweet from Guglielmi of the Secret Service.
It was unclear where President Joe Biden was at the time. Earlier on Monday evening, he had a meeting at the White House with Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy.
The Secret Service requested the evacuation of the nearby Hay Adams hotel, according to a hotel executive, and sections of the park’s roads and pedestrian walkways were shut down, according to the Secret Service.
According to a Washington Fire Department official, a call for what was described as a suspicious package investigation arrived at 9:40 p.m. (0140 GMT).
Before investigators concluded that the partly empty truck’s contents were safe, there was an immediate major law enforcement and public safety response.
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