Jordan A. Sprogis
As the Obama family was celebrating Thanksgiving, a Stamford man scaled the White House fence on Thanksgiving Day while wearing an American flag as a cape, prompting a lockdown.
Secret Service spokesperson Robert Hoback said in an email on Friday that Joseph Caputo, 22, was charged with unlawful entry, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison. He did not enter a plea during his appearance in District of Columbia Superior Court on Friday afternoon.
The judge released him to the custody of the Secret Service for the sake of an emergency psychological evaluation, says the Associated Press.
Caputo jumped the north fence around 2:45 p.m. on Thursday and landed with his hands up in the air while carrying a binder, according to witnesses.
Witness Victoria Peña was visiting Washington, D.C. when she saw Caputo take off his sweatshirt and wrap an American flag around his body. She remembered him saying, “All right, let’s do this,” before running.
“Then he just ran through us, jumped over the first barricade and went over the fence,” Peña told the Hartford Courant. “Right when he landed, he threw his arms in the air and went to his knees.”
After jumping the fence, Caputo waited for the Secret Service to arrive, who then took him into custody. He reportedly told them, “I love my country” and “I knew I would be locked up.”
Caputo’s mother provided the Secret Service with her son’s “last will and testament” that he had written and played an audio message where he says that something will happen and she may not see him again, according to the Associated Press.
Josh Bleggi, a family friend of the Caputos, said that he wasn’t sure what drove his friend to jump the fence.
“I feel Joe did have a message he wanted to give to the American public and his jumping the fence was to get their attention,” Bleggi told the Courant. “I don’t know what his message actually was.”
Caputo is expected to appear in federal court on Monday.