Driver charged after truck crash near White House

·2 min read

The driver of a truck that crashed into security barriers near the White House on Monday night has been arrested.

He has been charged with various offences including reckless driving.

A Secret Service official said there were no injuries and initial investigations suggested the crash might have been intentional.

The driver, a 19-year-old Missouri man, allegedly made threatening statements aimed at President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris.

US Park Police named the suspect as Sai Varshith Kandula, a resident of the St Louis suburb of Chesterfield.

At a hearing on Tuesday, a lawyer representing the teenager told a DC Superior Court judge there was no evidence Mr Kandula's actions were intentional.

The judge disagreed and said he posed "a significant risk to the community".

The case is expected to be transferred to federal court.

Mr Kandula has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, a threat to kill, kidnap or inflict harm on a president, vice-president or family member, as well as destruction of federal property and trespassing.

Citing a law enforcement source, CBS, the BBC's US partner, reported that Mr Kandula is a US citizen who was not on any police watch lists. He is not believed to have any significant criminal record.

The Rockwood School District confirmed Mr Kandula graduated from Marquette High School in Chesterfield, Missouri in 2022.

There were no weapons or explosives found in the vehicle, officials said. A Nazi flag as well as a black backpack and a roll of duct tape were found inside the truck, according to US media reports.

Reuters news agency published an image showing the red flag on the floor near to the vehicle as police conducted a search.

The incident - which happened just before 22:00 local time (02:00 GMT) - triggered evacuations of local hotels including the historic Hay-Adams.

Video of the crash taken by witnesses and posted to social media show the truck stopped on a sidewalk before it accelerated and collided with a set of security posts.

It is unclear where Mr Biden was at the time of the incident. Earlier in the day, he was at the White House for debt ceiling talks with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Security has been increased at the White House and other federal buildings in Washington DC following a string of incidents in recent years.

In April 2021, a police officer was killed and another wounded when a driver rammed a security barrier near the US Capitol. The driver, a 25-year-old Indiana man, was shot and killed.

In another incident in August last year, a man drove into a barricade near the Capitol before firing shots into the air and taking his own life.