Sunday, May 22, 2016

Wayward Party Balloons Trigger Latest White House Security Scare

Michelle Jamrisko mljamrisko
May 22, 2016 — 3:02 PM EDT

Innocent incident follows recent shooting of armed suspect
Secret Service has proposed higher fence around the residence

The latest security scare at the White House turned out to be nothing more than wayward party balloons drifting into secured airspace.

While lockdowns at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are common -- even the most innocuous-looking unattended package merits security measures around the U.S. president’s residence -- the area is on especially high alert at the moment.

Several balloons lofted just above White House grounds early Sunday afternoon, prompting a White House lockdown before the all-clear was given about 10 minutes later, according to tweets from NBC Nightly News.

Sunday’s brief and apparently innocent violation followed recent serious incidents in the area. A Secret Service agent on Friday shot an armed suspect near the White House after reports of gunfire, according to an agency statement. The man was transported to a hospital with critical injuries.

The Secret Service regularly contends with people attempting to jump the metal fence that encircles the White House grounds and has proposed raising it. In September 2014 a man scaled the fence and was able to enter the executive mansion before being apprehended. In response, at least one lawmaker suggested constructing a moat around the property.

Requests for information on Sunday’s incident via a call and e-mail to the White House press office weren’t immediately returned. President Barack Obama is currently in Hanoi, Vietnam.

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