Man arrested after crashing truck into barrier near White House

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A US Park Police officer inspects a security barrier for damage in Lafayette Square park near the White House [Alex Brandon/AP Photo]

Driver faces multiple charges including threatening to kill, kidnap or inflict harm on a president, assault with deadly weapon.

Police have arrested a Missouri man they believe intentionally crashed a U-Haul truck into a security barrier at a park across from the White House.

The box truck’s driver smashed into the barrier near the north side of Lafayette Square on Monday at about 10pm (02:00 GMT Tuesday), Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement. He was identified as 19-year-old Sai Varshith Kandula, of Chesterfield, a St Louis suburb.

No one was injured in the crash.

A witness, Chris Zaboji, said the driver smashed into the barrier at least twice. Zaboji, a 25-year-old pilot who lives in Washington, was finishing a run close by Lafayette Square when he heard the loud crash of the U-Haul truck hitting the barrier. He said he took out his phone and captured the moment the truck struck the barrier again before he heard sirens approaching.

“When the van backed up and rammed it again, I decided I wanted to get out of there,” he said.

Officers from the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department searched the truck after the crash. Video posted by WUSA-TV shows a police officer at the scene picking up and inventorying several pieces of evidence from the truck, including a Nazi flag.

Tire marks remain on a curb in Lafayette Square park near the White House
Tire marks remain on a curb in Lafayette Square park near the White House, after a 19-year-old suburban St Louis resident crashed a truck into the barrier near the north side of Lafayette Square late Monday [Alex Brandon/AP Photo]

Based on a preliminary investigation, investigators believe the driver “may have intentionally struck the security barriers at Lafayette Square”, Guglielmi said. Authorities offered no additional details about the possible motive.

The US Park Police said Kandula was arrested on multiple charges, including threatening to kill, kidnap or inflict harm on a president, vice president or member of their family; assault with a dangerous weapon; reckless driving; destruction of federal property; and trespassing.

No lawyer was listed for Kandula in court records, multiple telephone numbers listed under his surname in public records were out of service, and efforts by The Associated Press to reach relatives who could speak on his behalf on Tuesday were not immediately successful.

Lafayette Square, which offers perhaps the best view of the White House available to the public, has long been one of the nation’s most prominent venues for demonstrations. The park was closed for nearly a year after federal authorities fenced off the area at the height of nationwide protests against policing tactics following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but it reopened in May 2021.

U-Haul is a moving truck, trailer and self-storage rental company based in Phoenix.

SOURCE: AP

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