Three Arrested Near White House
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Three men were arrested in separate incidents around the White House on Wednesday and early today, including a man who said there was a bomb in his car, U.S. Park Police and the Secret Service said.
Another man was arrested early today near the White House on charges of carrying an illegal firearm. And a third man whom the Secret Service said walked onto White House grounds when a gate was opened briefly was arrested Wednesday evening and charged with unlawful entry.
No one was hurt in any of the incidents and law enforcement officials said that none of the episodes was viewed as a threat against President Clinton, who was in the White House through all three incidents.
The arrests are the latest in a spate of bizarre attacks and incidents at the White House over the past few months.
The man who claimed to have a bomb drove a car up to near the White House fence, jumped out of the car, and was chased down by a park police officer and a uniformed officer of the Secret Service, said Sgt. Michael Keenan of the Park Police.
The man was apprehended in the Washington Monument parking area following a chase shortly before 3 a.m., he said.
″The guy said there was an explosive device in the car,″ Keenan said. ″There wasn’t.″
The car was parked along the street that runs past the south grounds of the White House.
″He was very disoriented, he basically had no clue where he was. He expressed no interest in the White House,″ said Secret Service spokesman Curtis Eldridge.
The man was identified later as Joseph Maggio, 36, of Annapolis, Md. He was committed to a hospital for observation.
In an earlier incident, a man carrying a gun was arrested about 2 a.m. on the Ellipse, an open park between the south grounds of the White House and the Washington Monument grounds.
That man ″was seen skulking around and stopped for suspicious activity. They patted him down and found a gun,″ the Park Police’s Keenan said.
The man was identified as 27-year-old Franklin Ruff, who said he was moving to Washington from Las Vegas and had no fixed address here. He claimed to have a Las Vegas permit for the loaded 9 mm semiautomatic handgun he was carrying, said Park Police Lt. Phil Cholak.
″At this point, it doesn’t seem to be related to anything at the White House,″ Cholak said of the Ruff arrest. Ruff was charged with carrying an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition.
On Wednesday evening, a man identified as Richard Green, 44, of Washington, was arrested on charges of unlawful entry on the White House grounds.
Eldridge, the Secret Service spokesman, said Green came onto the White House grounds when the Southwest Gate was briefly opened to let a vehicle out.
″I think he just kind of wandered in. He didn’t really express any interest in anybody in particular,″ Eldridge said.
The three arrests did nothing to stop Clinton from jogging early this morning.
White House spokeswoman Ginny Terzano said that Clinton was not awakened during the night to be told about the episodes.
On Tuesday, Park Police shot a homeless man on the sidewalk just outside the White House fence after he charged at an officer with a knife in his hand and refused orders to surrender. The man, Marcelino Corniel, 33, died a day later.
Last Saturday, someone shot at the south side of the White House, and one of the bullets went through a window in the State Dining Room. The other three bullets fell to the ground before hitting the building. No one was arrested.
On Oct. 29 Francisco Martin Duran was arrested for firing a semiautomatic rifle at the White House. Among the 15 charges filed against him is one for attempting to assassinate President Clinton.