Surveillance cameras at Vice President Biden’s private Delaware residence failed to capture images of the gunman who fired shots near the house on Saturday night, leaving authorities with no leads or suspects, according to government officials with knowledge of the home’s security.
The cameras were aimed at areas directly adjacent to the house but not at the main road, where agents and neighbors heard a car speed away after approximately four to six shots were fired, the officials said, requesting anonymity to discuss the investigation.
The security system at the house has had a long track record of problems and false alarms, said several people familiar with the problem.
It was so unreliable at times last year, occasionally giving incorrect data, that the Secret Service turned it off for several months — warning agents at the time that cameras and alarms would be shut down indefinitely.
The system was quickly repaired in November, after The Post first inquired about the problems. Now, in the wake of the Saturday shooting, the Secret Service is proposing adding more cameras to cover a broader area to include the road, according to people familiar with deliberations.
Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said the agency does not provide details about the vice president’s security.
“As a practice the Secret Service does not discuss the condition, number or locations of cameras and alarms at facilities we protect since this is the type of information our adversaries desire,” Donovan said. “On the night of the incident in Delaware, the appropriate security measures were in place and fully functioning.”
Biden spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff declined to comment for this article.
The episode at Biden’s house follows a string of security lapses that have embarrassed the Secret Service and prompted a management overhaul. Acting Director Joseph P. Clancy, who took over in October after the resignation of then-Director Julia Pierson, last week forced out much of the agency’s top leadership, and Obama administration officials have called for sweeping reforms at the agency.
Questions about the investigation into Saturday’s shooting prompted Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, to send a letter Tuesday to Clancy asking to see the footage retrieved from the cameras at the residence.
“It still seems as though the most basic things are not being done,” Chaffetz said in an interview. “Having a functional security system at the vice president’s home seems like an obvious thing to do.”
Chaffetz said he worried the search for evidence at the Biden home was reminiscent of the Secret Service’s bungled investigation of a 2011 White House shooting, when a gunman was on the loose for four days before a housekeeper found that a bullet had hit the president’s residence.
“It took so long to get details of the 2011 shooting,” Chaffetz said in an interview. “Let’s learn from that and learn immediately what happened here.”
The Saturday night incident follows years of internal concerns in the agency about the difficulties of safeguarding the Biden family home, where the vice president often prefers to stay rather than the more fortified official residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington.
The six-bedroom house sits in a wooded area near a small lake, set back down a long, narrow driveway from a main road, a few miles outside of Wilmington, Del.
Biden and his wife Jill spend many weekends at the property. A full complement of special agents are stationed at the home 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whether Biden is there or not.
On some weekends, agents have traveled with Biden to Wilmington on a Friday evening, back to Washington on a Saturday morning, back to Wilmington Saturday afternoon and back to Washington Sunday night, according to people familiar with the schedule.
The Secret Service rents several condominiums in the Wilmington area to house agents who work at the house.
Biden said in mid-November that he first heard about operational problems with his home’s security system at his Wilmington house after inquiries from a reporter. He said at the time that he had “no personal concern about my physical safety as it relates to the Secret Service.”
Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.