The intruder who scaled a White House fence and opened the unlocked door while having a knife on him Friday received a GED from Orange High School and played football for the Panthers, according to published reports.
Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, faces up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted of illegally entering a restricted area with a dangerous weapon.
Now a resident of Copperas Cove, Texas, former Army soldier Gonzalez was also stopped while walking along the south fence area in front of the White House on Aug. 25 with a hatchet in his rear waistband but was not arrested, according to federal authorities. He was arrested earlier in the summer in Virginia, where he had several weapons in his car and a map with the White House circled, officials said.
On Friday, a machete, two hatchets and more than 800 rounds of ammunition were found in Gonzalez's car, according to federal prosecutors. The incident (or incidents, really) have prompted the Secret Service to review its presidential security procedures.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Gonzalez getting the Orange High GED and the Orange County Register has the bits about his high school football days. The Santa Ana daily did not have to go far to find someone who remembered the former Panther.
"Omar was on the football team with me at Orange High School back in the early 1990s," says Fermin Leal, now a Register reporter. "He was a couple of years older than me, so I didn't really know him. . . . Still, it was shocking to hear that the guy who jumped the fence at the White House went to school with me."
"He always had a smile on his face, he was willing to work hard, and he was a 'yes, sir; no, sir' guy," Ed Howard, who was an assistant coach at Orange High and is now Villa Park High's principal, remembered of Gonzalez in the Register report.
"Even in high school, that was his goal, to be in the Marines or to be some kind of soldier. He was that kind of kid."
The Times quotes family members saying Gonzalez was pinned in a firefight near Baghdad, became disillusioned with the military while receiving veterans care in the States, and is being treated for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.