UPDATE May 23, 2023: Local media reports indicated that the suspect in the car ramming near the White House in Washington, DC is 19-year-old Sai Varshith Kandula from Chesterfield, Missouri. He has been charged with threatening to kill or harm a president, vice president, or family member, assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, and trespassing. Authorities seized a Nazi flag when he was detained, and authorities indicated that Sai Varshith Kandula made threatening statements against the White House while he was being detained. No weapons or explosives were located in the vehicle at the time of the arrest.
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The U.S. Secret Service said it had detained the driver of a rented box truck that crashed into security barriers near the White House on Monday night, perhaps intentionally, but that there were no injuries or ongoing danger.
A Reuters witness said investigators found a Nazi swastika flag that came from inside the truck, which crashed into barriers at Lafayette Square, adjacent to the White House grounds.
Officers retrieved the flag and plastic evidence bags that had been laid out on the sidewalk following the crash and placed them in the back of the U-Haul, a Reuters photographer said.
“Preliminary investigation reveals the driver may have intentionally struck the security barriers at Lafayette Square,” Anthony Guglielmi, chief of communications for the Secret Service, said on Twitter. NGO StopAntisemitism also. shared a photo of the Nazi flag and the individual charged in the ramming incident on Twitter.
D.C. – 19 year old Sai Varshith Kandula has been arrested after he attempted to ram his rented U-Haul truck into a security barrier near the White House last night.
Kandula traveled from St. Louis to Dulles International Airport where he rented a U-Haul truck and drove to the… pic.twitter.com/RvK6IksRWO— StopAntisemitism (@StopAntisemites) May 23, 2023
U.S. Park Police would file charges with investigative support from the Secret Service, he added.
WUSA television showed video of a box-type, U-Haul truck stopped alongside a row of steel bollards, with uniformed law-enforcement officers and a dog approaching the vehicle. A remote-controlled robot pried open the truck’s rear door, revealing a dolly but no other obvious cargo.
Chris Zaboji, a witness to the crash, posted a brief video on social media showing the truck driving into the barricades. The video was verified by Reuters. After crashing once, the driver hit the barriers a second time, he said.
Zaboji, 25, an airline pilot who lives in Washington, said he had just finished jogging on the National Mall and was walking home when he heard a loud crash.
“I looked back and saw that the U-Haul van had rammed into the barricade. I backed away behind a guy on a golf cart and took the video on my phone. After I saw it rammed again I didn’t want to be anywhere near the truck and left,” Zaboji said.
A previous tweet from the Secret Service’s Guglielmi said nobody from the White House or Secret Service was injured.