White House on lockdown with reporters being moved to press briefing room, reports say

Lockdown arrives days after man tries to hop fence and drop backpack near back of White House

Chris Riotta
New York
,Clark Mindock
Monday 24 June 2019 17:26
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Police respond to 'suspicious package' near White House on Pennsylvania Avenue

The White House was briefly put under lockdown on Monday morning, with Secret Service citing a suspicious package that was later declared safe by officials.

Soon after police identified the suspicious package, journalists posted messages on social media announcing the lockdown as they were assembled in the White House press briefing room, where they have not had a briefing in nearly 100 days.

“We are literally locked in here,” wrote Megan Pratz, a reporter for Cheddar. “We can’t see much but Secret Service officers just ran across the lawn.”

The Secret Service posted a statement on Twitter minutes later saying the agency was “responding to an incident involving a suspicious package located on Pennsylvania Ave,” and then later confirmed that the suspicious package had been deemed not dangerous.

Nearby pedestrian traffic routes were also closed on Monday during the lockdown, which ended around 12.40pm local time.

Ms Pratz later tweeted that an officer with the Secret Service briefed the group of reporters who had been locked in the briefing room, and said they were asked “not to go outside.”

“Does not want anyone out on the North Grounds right now, where all the camera positions are,” she added.

Monday marked the second lockdown for the White House in less than a week.

Days earlier, a man was detained after attempting to jump a bike rack and throw his backpack into the defence perimeter of the White House residence.

The suspect's name was not released by the Secret Service, which said in a written statement that it had “cleared the backpack and the individual was placed under arrest, and charged with unlawful entry.”

Donald Trump was at the White House during the latest lockdown, according to his public schedule. The president was participating in a 2019 Presidential Scholars photo opportunity at the time.

As the lockdown was in place, Mr Trump announced an executive order targeting Iran with financial sanctions.

“Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon,” the president reportedly said. A group of pool reporters were assembled in the Oval Office for the signing.

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“I think a lot of restraint has been shown by us but that doesn’t mean we’re going to show it in the future,” the president said. “We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country,” he added.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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