The near-mythos surrounding the man who jumped the White House fence last week keeps getting weirder.
Via Bloomberg Law:
The man accused of jumping the White House fence with a knife was free on bail at the time of the incident after his arrest on a separate weapons charge in Virginia, prosecutors said.
Omar Gonzalez, who was accused of rushing the executive mansion on Sept. 19, made a court appearance today in Washington, where he was ordered held without bond. His next hearing is set for Oct. 1.
Although the media hasn’t quite picked up on exactly what this “weapons charge” is, friends and family of Gonzalez have already begun pushing back on the idea that Gonzalez’s history with weapons adds a new angle to the already bizarre story.
According to CBS News, friends of Gonzalez believe that if he had jumped the fence with the intent to harm, he would have brought something more deadly than a three-inch knife.
Jerry Murphy, whose mother was married to Gonzalez for several years, said Gonzalez suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and that he needs treatment, not to be treated like a criminal.
He said Gonzalez has been driving around the country and living out of his truck for the past couple of years, and that he always carries his knife.
“I know he’s got heavy artillery, you know? He’s got all kinds of weapons and he was trained to use them,” Murphy said. “I believe if he wanted to make a scene or cause problems, he very well could have. But it’s clear that he didn’t.”
Officials have said Gonzalez was awarded a medal for his service in Iraq and retired due to disability.
Reports have made clear that, although Gonzalez doesn’t have a history of violence, he does suffer from PTSD and has presented with serious behavioral changes since he was discharged:
Another former neighbor, identified by KXXV only as “Andrew”: “He’s always check on people. From time-to-time when I’d talk to him, he told me that he thought people were watching him or his phone was tapped or someone tapped his house. … I’ve heard rumors of him walking out with guns strapped to him, walking around in his yard.”
His family saw changes too.
“He’s been depressed for quite some time,” one relative, who was not named, told the Los Angeles Times. “He’d been taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. I suspect he stopped taking it, otherwise this wouldn’t have happened.”
Gonzalez’s diagnosis of PTSD helps back up Gonzalez’s own reasoning behind his decision to commit what amounts to a felony trespass (that could carry a ten year prison term):
After he was apprehended, Gonzalez told a Secret Service agent he feared “the atmosphere was collapsing and 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 the affidavit.
This makes sense, especially in a soldier presenting with depression and PTSD. Lawmakers, however, are focusing less on the man behind the breach, and more on the complete breakdown of White House security protocol. Questions remain unanswered as to why attack dogs weren’t deployed, and as to how in the world Gonzalez made it through the door to the Residence when that door should have been locked.
Their suspicions, coupled with the volatile foreign policy situation and escalating threat of domestic terrorism, will prevent the White House from brushing this one under the rug.
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