The Secret Service agent who eventually stopped Omar Jose Gonzalez, the man arrested earlier this month for running into the East Room of the White House with a knife, was off-duty and just happened to be leaving as Gonzalez was running through the building, the Washington Post reports.
Initial reports from the incident on Sept. 20 claimed that Secret Service was able to apprehend Gonzalez, 40, just inside the front door. On Monday, the Post reported that Gonzalez was able to evade Secret Service and make his way much farther into the building than previously stated.
Pierson testified that at least two Secret Service officers recognized Gonzalez from an earlier encounter, but neither attempted to stop him that day and apparently failed to alert superior officers of his presence. The president and his family were not on the premises at the time Gonzalez entered the building.
"I agree that mistakes were made and proper protocols were not followed," Pierson told the committee to explain Gonzalez's breach of White House grounds. "I personally have a zero tolerance level when it comes to misconduct."
When asked to explain why officers did not follow protocol and report Gonzalez, Pierson testified that she did not know why. She said an investigation has been launched into the matter. "It's obvious," Pierson said. "It is obvious that mistakes were made."
Stephen Lynch, Democratic representative from Mass., tore into Pierson, saying he didn't believe the director was taking the president's security "seriously."
"I'm sorry, I hate to be critical, but we have a lot at stake here. I gotta call it like it is. I have very low confidence in the Secret Service under your leadership," Lynch said.
[Image via AP]