Nazi swastika flag found after van crashes into barriers near White House
Jun 16, 2023
Sai Varshith Kandula charged with threatening the president
A Nazi swastika flag has been found by police after a rented van crashed into security barriers near the White House on Monday night.
The flag and plastic evidence bags were photographed on the road following the incident. The flag is believed to have been found inside the van, according to a witness.
Officers detained and charged the driver of the vehicle, which crashed into barriers at Lafayette Square, next to the White House grounds. There were no reports of injuries or ongoing danger.
Anthony Guglielmi, chief of communications for the Secret Service, said: "Preliminary investigation reveals the driver may have intentionally struck the security barriers at Lafayette Square."
Sai Varshith Kandula,19 has now been charged with threatening the president of the United States.
Took this photo of the White House and immediately heard a crash behind me. Figured someone may have accidentally crashed until the U-Haul backed up and once again tried to break through the barriers.Shoutout to the Secret Service Police for their quick response and action! pic.twitter.com/qIq3PbBJFj
Mr Kandula of Chesterfield, Missouri, faces a number of charges including threatening to kill, kidnap or inflict harm on the president, vice president or a family member, according to US Park Police.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the force said: “On May 22 at approximately 9:40 p.m., United States Park Police and United States Secret Service Uniform Division officers responded to the 1600 block of H Street NW for a truck that the preliminary investigation indicates intentionally crashed into the bollards on the outside of Lafayette Park.
Mr Kandula has also been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, trespassing, destruction of federal property and reckless operation of a motor vehicle, the force said in a statement.
Local television showed officers and a dog approaching the vehicle and a remote-controlled robot opening the van's boot.
Chris Zaboji, a witness to the crash, posted a video on social media showing the truck driving into the barricades.
The airline pilot, who lives in Washington, said he had just finished jogging when he heard a loud crash.
"I looked back and saw that the U-Haul van had rammed into the barricade. I backed away behind a guy on a golf cart and took the video on my phone," he said.
"After I saw it rammed again, I didn't want to be anywhere near the truck and left."
The nearby Hay Adams hotel was evacuated at the request of the Secret Service, the Washington Post reported, citing a hotel official, while service agents said some roads and pavements around the park were closed.
A spokesman for the Washington Fire Department said it had received a call at 9.40pm for what was described as a suspicious package investigation.
A major police and public safety response was subsequently launched, before investigators determined that the contents of the truck were harmless.