White House lockdown after man 'accidentally' crashes drone inside complex

A government employee told the US Secret Service that he was flying the unmanned aircraft recreationally before he lost control

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The Independent US

A recreational drone that crashed into a tree on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday morning sparking a major security alert is believed to have been operated by a government employee who claims to have accidentally flown it over the premises' fence.

The man, a government employee, came forward and told Secret Service officials that he was flying the drone for “recreational use” just after 3am Monday morning in the area around the White House when he lost control of it. The incident prompted a lockdown of the entire complex until officials could examine the drone.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are traveling in India, but their daughters, Sasha and Malia, may have been at home. “The individual has been interviewed by Secret Service agents and been fully cooperative. Initial indications are that this incident occurred as a result of recreational use of the device,” a statement said.

The incident comes at a delicate time for the Secret Service, whose former director Julia Pierson was forced to resign last year after a man armed with a knife was able to get over a White House fence and run into the executive mansion before being stopped by guards.

Earlier this month four top Secret Service officials were demoted after a scathing report by the Department of Homeland Security that revealed shortcomings in the way the Secret Service and its staff protected the president’s home. A spokesman for the President said today: "The early indications are that it does not pose any sort of ongoing threat to anybody at the White House.”