May 24, 2023
A 19-year-old Missouri man, accused of driving a truck into barriers near the White House on Monday, May 22, made incriminating statements that have led investigators to believe he was seeking to harm the president, NBC News reports.
The suspect—identified as Sai Varshith Kandula of Chesterfield by U.S. Park Police on Tuesday morning—made threatening statements about the White House at the scene of Monday night’s incident, a law enforcement official told NBC News. A Nazi flag was seized by authorities at the scene.
The charges against Kandula for allegedly “threatening to kill, kidnap, inflict harm on a president, vice president, or family member,” stem from statements he made to multiple law enforcement agencies, according to a Secret Service representative.
The suspect was interviewed by Secret Service investigators Monday night, the agency representative said, during the ongoing probe that also involves United States Park Police, the FBI and U.S. Capitol Police.
Kandula was further charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, and trespassing.
Authorities said the preliminary investigation indicates Kandula “intentionally crashed” into the bollards outside Lafayette Park.
No one was injured. The truck was found to contain no weapons or explosives, the official said, without providing further details about the incident.
Asked for their reaction, the official said: “I don’t think there’s any place for a Nazi flag or the statements that he made.”
The white U-Haul box truck crashed into the barriers on the north side of Lafayette Square, just a few hundred feet from the White House, just before 10 p.m. (ET).
President Joe Biden’s exact whereabouts at the time of the incident were unclear. He had met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Monday night at the White House to discuss the debt limit.
“There were no injuries to any Secret Service or White House personnel and the cause and manner of the crash remain under investigation,” Anthony Guglielmi, the Secret Service chief of communications, said in a statement Monday night.
Guglielmi said in a later statement posted to Twitter that the truck had been deemed safe by Washington, D.C., police and that “preliminary investigation reveals the driver may have intentionally struck the security barriers.” Park Police would file charges with investigative support from the Secret Service, Guglielmi said.
The Reuters news agency published an image showing a Nazi-style red flag emblazoned with a swastika laid on the ground beside the van. Reuters, citing its own photographer on the scene and a witness, reported that this and other pieces of evidence apparently taken from the truck had been placed on the sidewalk and were then seized by officers.
Research contact: @NBCNews