Let’s face it – being the president is one of the most stressful jobs out there. You’d think that the guy could at least step out his back door for some fresh air without worrying about running into some weirdo having a walkabout on his lawn. Yet it seems like at least every few months we hear about someone who has managed to evade the gates, sensors, dogs, guards and various other methods set up to try and protect the president from unwanted guests.
We’ll take a look at 10 of the times people have gotten way too close to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for comfort. You will not believe the lengths some people have gone through to try and get an unscheduled appointment with the commander in chief.
10. Caught Hanging Out
In late March 2017, Marci Anderson Wahl was arrested for scaling the White House fence three times over a course of a week. Once, officers discovered her hanging from the inside of the fence by her shoelaces, which were caught on top of the fence according to a police report on the incident. She said she was inspired by the next guy on the list.
9. He’s The Wanderer
On March 10, 2017, Jonathan Tran jumped multiple fences at the White House complex. He set off some alarms but avoided other sensors and evaded Secret Service officers for 17 minutes. He even managed to get close enough to rattle a door handle at the south portico entrance to the White House. If you think that’s scary, check out the next entry!
8. Can I Help You?
In November of 1975, Gerald Gainous climbed over the White House fence and roamed the grounds for almost an hour and a half before finally being arrested within a few feet of the president’s daughter, who was unloading camera equipment from her car near the south portico. He would go on to be arrested three more times for fence hopping.
7. Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting
In October of 1978, Anthony Henry donned his best karate whites, kicked off his shoes, and climbed over the White House fence to protest the use of “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency. He was not, however, fast as lightning, and guards cut him off near the front fountain. Talk about fast as lightning, check out #6!
6. Pint-Sized Prowler
In August of 2014, there was a brief scare when a toddler broke away from his parents and squeezed through the White House fence onto the grounds. He didn’t get too far before being nabbed. A spokesman for the Secret Service said, “We were going to wait until he learned to talk to question him, but in lieu of that he got a timeout and was sent on his way with his parents.”
5. Helicopter Joyride
In February of 1974, despondent over a failed relationship, 20-year-old private first class Robert Preston took a helicopter from Fort Meade and went on a joyride through Washington D.C. After buzzing by the Lincoln Memorial, Capitol building, and the Washington Monument, he turned towards the White House. Despite Secret Service opening fire as he came in, the helicopter settled gently onto the lawn barely 100 yards from the executive mansion.
4. Catch Me If You Can
On the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in for his second term, Robert Latta sneaked into the White House by following the 33 members of the Marine Band past security. Once in the executive mansion, he wandered around for about 14 minutes before someone noticed he had neither an instrument or uniform. He was quoted as saying, “I thought if I wasn’t supposed to be there, somebody would stop me.” Speaking of no one stopping, check out #3!
3. Right Through The Front Door
In September of 2014, Omar Gonzalez jumped over the White House fence and walked straight through the front door of the executive mansion. He overpowered an agent at the door and ran into the East Room, where he was stopped by an off-duty agent. Gonzalez said he needed to tell the president that “the atmosphere was collapsing” so that he could alert the public.
2. Don’t Tread On Me
In June of 2013, Joseph Reel rigged a Jeep to careen down Pennsylvania Avenue, causing it to crash into a White House security gate at 40 mph in the wee hours of the morning. This was to create a diversion so he could paint a “Don’t tread on me snake” on the side of the White House. He was discovered in the north courtyard with a can of spray paint wrapped in duct tape.
1. State Dinner Crashers
On November 24, 2009, Michaele and Tareq Salahi performed the ultimate party crash when they attended the White House state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as uninvited guests. Michaele Salahi was being filmed for Bravo’s The Real Housewives of D.C. By most accounts, they were allowed in by simply looking like they belonged there.
Everyone on this list (with the exception of the toddler, who probably just wanted to run) was willing to risk imprisonment to get a little face time with the president. Many of them did get some pretty stiff sentences in fact (I’m thinking of you, soldier helicopter pilot). Whether they were actually delusional or just had delusions of grandeur is up to you to decide.
How about you? Would you be willing to do something crazy to get your 10 minutes of fame with the president? Let us know in the comments and share this story with your friends!