The Secret Service arrested 33-year-old Ervin Pettaway of Washington, DC, for making verbal threats near the complex. Mr Pettaway allegedly claimed to have “dropped explosives” on the north side of Lafayette Park, near Pennsylvania Avenue. He has been charged with one count of felony threats.
The north fence line of the White House was closed due to the suspicious activity on Friday morning. The Uniformed Division of the Secret Service responded to the scene and Mr Pettaway was arrested minutes later.-
Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Park near the White House were briefly closed to pedestrians, and reporters and staffers were instructed not to leave the White House until the investigation concluded, according to the Associated Press. CBS News reported that reporters were asked to leave the North Lawn.
The incident occurred as President Donald Trump departed Washington for his 12-day tour through Asia. He boarded Air Force one at 9:16 am, according to pool reports – just fifteen minutes before the lock down was put in place.
Mr Trump was accompanied on the plane by First Lady Melania Trump, Chief of Staff John Kelly, US Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer, and two top advisers. The diplomatic trip will take them to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
The President did not mention the lock down on Twitter, but did issue several comments about the 2016 Democratic primary race.
“Bernie Sanders supporters have every right to be apoplectic of the complete theft of the Dem primary by Crooked Hillary!” he wrote shortly after the incident.
The lock down was lifted approximately an hour after it was put in place.