A California man facing charges for climbing over the White House fence Sunday night said he didn't intend to get inside the residence or hurt anyone.
Jerome R. Hunt, 54, used a bike rack to climb over the fence on the south side of the White House complex at 10:25 p.m., the Secret Service said. As he left a courthouse after pleading not guilty on Monday, Hunt said he had a good reason for his actions but would not specify what it was.
“They have a good protective system for the president," he recalled. "They reacted real fast.”
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Hunt, who lives in Hayward, California, said he took a Greyhound bus from California to D.C. While Sunday was his birthday, he said that had nothing to do with the incident.
“I don’t celebrate birthdays like that,” he said.
Hunt pleaded not guilty Monday and was released on his own recognizance. He must wear an ankle monitor and stay away from the White House grounds. His arrest comes as federal agencies mull new security measures there months after a man with a knife jumped the fence and ran inside.
He's due back in court in May.
The Secret Service has been beset by a series of security lapses, including an incident last Sept. 19 in which authorities said a man with a knife jumped a fence and ran inside the executive mansion, looking for the president.
That was the sixth time someone had jumped the fence since the start of 2014 and the 16th in the past five years, according to the Secret Service.
Changes to the White House security fence are in the works. In the coming weeks, steel spikes will be bolted atop the fence.
News4’s Scott MacFarlane said the spikes on top of the fence will remain in place for at least a year, until a new permanent replacement fence is completed.
News 4 has also learned the National Park Service is considering raising the fence to 10 feet high or adding a second fence, placing one inside the current one. A permanent replacement fence is expected to be completed by the end of 2016 and would also likely include iron spikes.