White House intruder pleads not guilty

A knife-carrying US Army veteran who jumped a fence and ran into the White House, triggering a ferocious debate about security around President Barack Obama, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.

Washington: A knife-carrying US Army veteran who jumped a fence and ran into the White House, triggering a ferocious debate about security around President Barack Obama, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.

Omar Gonzalez, 42, denies three counts of entering a restricted building with a deadly or dangerous weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon, and illegal possession of ammunition.

Gonzalez`s intrusion on September 19 was one of several incidents that have attracted scathing criticism of White House security, culminating on Wednesday with the resignation of US Secret Service director Julia Pierson.

A lawyer for Gonzalez, who faces up to 16 years in jail if convicted on all counts, opposed a court-ordered mental competency evaluation, insisting the veteran was fit to stand trial.

 

"It`s so clear this is not appropriate," attorney David Bos said in court.

"We believe there`s not a basis for competency evaluation," Bos said later.

"If a screening is done, we want it to be done by our experts, not by the court."

Judge Deborah Robinson delayed making a final ruling on the evaluation issue until later this month. A further hearing has been set for October 21.

Texas native Gonzalez, an Iraq veteran reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, is accused of entering the main door of the White House after sprinting across the presidential mansion`s lawn.

He entered several rooms before eventually being arrested.

Obama had his family had left the White House shortly before the intrusion.

A folding knife was found in Gonzalez`s pocket. Several hundred rounds of ammunition were later found in his car, according to prosecutors.

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