Tennessee woman arrested for intentionally driving vehicle into White House security barrier
Jessica Ford (left)
WASHINGTON - The White House was temporarily placed on lockdown after the Secret Service said a Tennessee woman struck a security barrier with her vehicle Friday.
A white Chevy van hit the barricade at 17th Street NW and E Street NW near the White House. Officials said the vehicle did not breach the barrier.
Authorities said 35-year-old Jessica Ford, of La Vergne, Tennessee, was apprehended by uniformed Secret Service officers following the crash.
No law enforcement officers were injured and no shots were fired during the incident, according to the Secret Service.
"The Secret Service has had previous encounters with the female in the vicinity of the White House resulting in numerous arrests for a variety of criminal violations," the Secret Service said in a news release. "The female was again charged today with numerous criminal violations and transported to the Metropolitan Police Department."
According to the police report regarding this incident, Ford struck the security barrier at around 2:45 p.m. Afterwards, she continued to try to accelerate the vehicle as officers eventually pulled her out through the driver's side window and placed her in handcuffs.
It was later determined in the investigation that an officer saw the suspect with a pistol in her hand pointed in the opposite direction of the officers while she was still behind the steering wheel, the police report said. After she failed to comply with demands to drop the weapon, officers forcibly removed the gun from her.
Ford is facing eight charges that include unlawful entry, carrying a pistol without a license, possession of unregistered firearm, aggravated assault on police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon-car, destruction of government property and contempt of court.
She is scheduled to appear in D.C. Superior Court Saturday afternoon.
Prior police reports from D.C. also show Ford was arrested three times last year in the area of the White House.
In April, police say she attempted to jump a security barrier in front of the White House. Ford pleaded guilty to an unlawful entry charge and was issued a stay-away order barring her from being near the White House.
A month later, she was arrested for trying to scale the White House fence and violating the stay-away order.
Then in July, she was arrested again for violating the order. She pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge and as part of a plea agreement, charges for the May incident were dismissed.
A judge sentenced Ford to 120 days in jail, but it was suspended on the condition that she complete a year of supervised probation.
President Donald Trump was at the White House hosting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when the incident took place.
The White House would resume normal operations after Ford was taken into custody.
A group of tourists visiting Washington D.C. for the first time witnessed the crash and described the scene to FOX 5.
"I heard a dull pop and turned around to see all this smoke," said Kimberlie Flauto.
“Before the big crash, 10 to 15 minutes before, we were actually on the benches by the White House and all of a sudden, people started running up the sidewalk, through the mud and stuff, and we were actually pretty scared because we didn't know what was going on," a girl at the scene described.
According to Flauto, the Secret Service had already begun clearing out the area before the vehicle rammed into the barricade.