White House

Documents: White House Fence Jumper Left Suicide Note

Court documents show a man accused of jumping the White House fence had left a suicide note with friends and told his mother that she may never see him again.

Twenty-two-year-old Joseph Caputo has been charged with scaling the fence while President Barack Obama was celebrating Thanksgiving with his family, prompting a lockdown.

Authorities say Caputo draped himself in an American flag when he went over the fence on Thursday afternoon. Photos show that he was carrying a binder in his mouth.

Court documents show he had been staying with friends in Virginia and left them a note that stated his intention to die on Nov. 26.

The note read, "Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around us who transform into the Force."

The documents show he also left an audio message for his mother and prepared a will.

Caputo made a brief court appearance on Friday and was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. In court, he wore a white-and-blue baseball-style T-shirt, white pants and sneakers with an American flag pattern.

He was represented in court by a private attorney, Paul Signet, who declined to comment.

Victoria Pena of Houston, a witness, said the man was standing with other people visiting the White House compound when he rushed toward the fence.

"I just heard him take a big, deep breath and whisper to himself, 'All right, let's do this,' and he took off,'' Pena said. "It was chaotic. Everyone around us was yelling, and kids were crying. It was pretty unexpected."

"Casually, I'm just there taking pictures and I see a ninja coming through, climbing,” witness Amar Marwaha of London told News4.

Security personnel and guard dogs ran toward Caputo and he lay on the grass awaiting them, Pena said.

After he was arrested, Caputo said, "I love my country," and "I knew I would be locked up," according to court records.

Secret Service officers retreived the flag, a USB flash drive shaped like Captain America's shield, a pocket guide to the Constitution and weightlifting gloves.

Caputo is charged with one count of illegal entry onto restricted grounds, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison. He did not enter a plea during his brief appearance in District of Columbia Superior Court on Friday afternoon.

He is scheduled to appear in federal court on Monday.

“Even though it was a national holiday, the Secret Service showed it could move quickly to apprehend a fence jumper,” House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said in a statement. “However, the failure of the new White House perimeter fence, despite its recent modifications with spikes, is both baffling and discouraging."

It was the seventh time in two years someone has jumped the White House fence. The most serious incident was in September 2014, when Omar Gonzalez made it all the way into the White House carrying a knife.

About a month later, Dominic Adesanya scaled the perimeter before the K9s took him down. Then in April, Jerome Hunt took a bus from California just to jump the fence in D.C.

The National Park Service is in the process of enhancing security around the White House. Permanent changes to the White House fence and checkpoints are expected in fall 2016.

Norton will ask for a meeting with Secret Service officers early next week.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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