The driver faces several charges including threatening to kill, kidnap or harm a president, assault with a deadly weapon.
Police have arrested a Missouri man who they believe intentionally crashed a U-Haul truck into a security barrier at a park across from the White House.
The driver of the box truck crashed into a barrier near the north side of Lafayette Square on Monday at around 10 pm (02:00 GMT Tuesday), Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement. He was identified as 19-year-old Sai Varshith Kandula, from Chesterfield, a suburb of St Louis.
No one was injured in the crash.
A witness, Chris Zaboji, said the driver hit the barrier at least twice. Zaboji, a 25-year-old pilot who lives in Washington, was finishing his run near Lafayette Square when he heard the loud crash of a U-Haul truck hitting a barrier. He said he took out his phone and took the moment the truck hit the barrier again before he heard sirens approaching.
“When the van backed up and it crashed again, I decided to get out of there,” he said.
Secret Service officers and the Metropolitan Police Department examined the truck after the crash. Video posted by WUSA-TV shows a police officer at the scene removing and inventorying several pieces of evidence from the truck, including a Nazi flag.
Based on the preliminary investigation, the investigators believe that the driver “may have intentionally hit the security barriers in Lafayette Square”, said Guglielmi. Authorities have not provided further details about a possible motive.
The US Park Police said Kandula was arrested on several charges, including threatening to kill, kidnap or harm a president, vice president or a member of their family; assault with a dangerous weapon; relentless driving; destruction of federal property; and violation.
No attorney is listed for Kandula in court records, several phone numbers listed under her last name in public records are out of service, and efforts by The Associated Press to reach relatives who could speak for him on Tuesday was not immediately successful.
Lafayette Square, which offers perhaps the best view of the White House available to the public, has long been one of the most popular places for demonstrations in the country. The park was closed for nearly a year after federal authorities cordoned off the area at the height of nationwide protests against police tactics following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but it reopened in May 2021.
U-Haul is a moving truck, trailer and self-storage rental company based in Phoenix.