We are reposting this article from September to include the most recent fence-jumper, 23-year-old Dominic Adesanya.


That Omar Gonzalez was able to walk into the White House after jumping the fence and sprinting across the lawn surprised most Americans and infuriated Capitol Hill. But that he tried, and where he tried from, should surprise absolutely no one.

There are at least 32 similar incidents that have been reported since the mid-1970s, according to an assessment conducted by the Post. We included a few other interesting incidents in our total tally, but, regardless, that number is almost certainly too low. A report in 1994 indicated that the Secret Service had cataloged 23 people climbing the fence between 1989 and that year; news reports only covered a handful.

We took the incidents that were covered by the media and mapped them according to the point of entry -- and, in some cases, point of capture -- of the perpetrators. The incidents cover a wide range of culprits and motivations, from homeless people to anti-war protestors to one remarkably drunk guy.

A. The north fence

The fence along the northern side of the White House is the most popular place where people try to penetrate the complex. In part, that's because it's the point that's closest to the White House. Also in part, it's because the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue at that point is a frequent site of protests.

Perhaps the most dangerous incident happened on Oct. 3, 1978. Anthony Henry climbed the fence wearing a karate gi and was confronted by security. He pulled a knife and wounded two guards. After his arrest, it was revealed that he wanted President Carter to remove "In God We Trust" from currency.

In 1981, Joseph Tubbs climbed the north fence apparently because he wanted a job. Two years later an unidentified man was arrested shortly after hopping the fence. Mark Hotchkiss was arrested in 1986 for the same reason. In 2005 during a protest against the Iraq War, a man climbed the fence and was arresting by waiting officers. Another protester, this time targeting the Guantanamo Bay, prison was arrested in 2013 in the same area.

Two weeks before before Gonzalez made it inside, Jeffrey Grossman of New York was arrested shortly after hopping the fence. He was on his way to discuss healthcare with President Obama. A month after Gonzalez, Dominic Adesanya of Maryland jumped the fence and kicked a guard dog before another dog brought him to the ground.

B. The North Lawn

Some, like Grossman, make it a decent way from the fence. The most tragic incident was in 1976, when cab driver Chester Plummer climbed the fence and started toward the White House. When he raised the pipe he was carrying as if to use it as a weapon, he was shot dead by Secret Service.

In 1981, William Persons was arrested as he ran for the front doors of the White House. Another man made it 30 feet past the fence when he was arrested in 2000.

In December 1991, five protesters made it onto the North Lawn, where they were arrested. Groups of protesters seem to have more luck; the previous December, a group of Gulf War protesters poured what they claimed was human blood into the fountain on the north side of the White House. In 1986, two members of the Community for Creative Nonviolence were arrested in the same vicinity.

C. Inside

At least three people have made it inside the White House. The first was a fence-jumper named Beth Campbell -- who was also an Associated Press reporter covering the 1937 inauguration. When she couldn't find her access pass, she simply jumped the fence. On Inauguration Day 1985, Robert Latta walked into the White House while accompanying a Marine Band.

Gonzalez appears to have been the only non-credentialed person to jump a fence and make it inside.

D. Northwest

On Christmas Day, 1974, a man drove his car into the northwest gate. Saying that he was the Messiah, he stepped out of the car to reveal that he had what appeared to be a bomb strapped to himself. They were road flares; he eventually gave himself up.

In 2011, another man entered from the northwest, making it about 50 yards from the North Portico before being caught, according to the Post.

E. Northeast

Perhaps the most interesting incident related to a breach in the northeast corner of the compound comes from a Daily Mirror report in 2007. It appears that Bertie Ahern, taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland, was visiting George W. Bush when a fence-jumper prompted a lock-down of the mansion. Eventually the day went on, though still not entirely comfortably. The Mirror reported:

Mr. Ahern visibly grimaces as President Bush introduced him at the packed press conference by saying: "Taoiseach, good morning, or should I say, Top of the morning to you?"

Two women also climbed the fence in this area, in 1986 and 2009. Both were quickly caught.

F. East

Two incidents occurred when people jumped barriers on the east side of the White House, in 1981 and 1995. Neither was remarkable.

G. Southeast

One of the more frightening breaches in recent history occurred just a few days after the 1995 incident above. Leland Modjeski climbed a fence shortly after President Clinton had entered nearby. Modjeski was carrying an unloaded handgun and made it to within 50 feet of the White House. He was wrestled to the ground by Secret Service, but not before being shot in the arm by an agent.

H. South

Another frightening incident occurred in 2001. Robert Pickett of Indiana climbed a fence into the South Lawn of the White House, firing a handgun and threatening security guards. He was shot in the leg and apprehended.

Another incident toward the end of President George W. Bush's administration was less fraught. In 2008, a man was quickly arrested after jumping the fence as the president's motorcade arrived at the mansion.

I. Unknown areas

A handful of reports simply mention that someone was taken into custody, often accompanying wire photos of an arrest.

On January 16, 1986, Michael Rudzik was arrested at some place just inside the White House fence. His story is a bit different. According to a UPI report from the following day, Rudzik "had no intention of harming the first family"; in fact, he may not have known he was climbing into the White House. A Secret Service spokesman explained that "alcohol and medication taken by Rudzik may have contributed to the incident." Which is as good a place to wrap this up as any.

The graphic in this post has been updated to accurately reflect the southern perimeter.