his goal was to "get into the White House, seize power"
A US Indian teenager was arrested after he crashed into a security barrier across from the White House – which police believe was intentional – and said he wanted to kill President Joe Biden.
On May 22, 2023, at around 10 pm, the U-Haul truck smashed into the barrier near the north side of Lafayette Square.
The driver was identified as 19-year-old Sai Varshith Kandula, a resident of St Louis, Missouri.
No one was injured in the crash.
After the crash, Kandula exited the vehicle with a Nazi flag and started shouting as Park Police and Secret Service officers approached him.
According to the court document, he said he bought the flag online because Nazis “have a great history”.
It is also alleged that Kandula said he “admires their authoritarian nature, Eugenics, and their one world order”.
Kandula identified Hitler as a “strong leader” whom he admires.
When questioned by investigators, Kandula said his goal was to “get into the White House, seize power, and be put in charge of the nation”.
He also said he would “kill the President if that’s what I have to do and would hurt anyone that would stand in my way”.
Kandula rented the truck immediately after taking a one-way flight from St Louis to Dulles International Airport.
According to U-Haul, people must be 18 to rent a truck from U-Haul, and there were no red flags on his rental record that would have prevented the contract.
One witness said the driver smashed into the barrier at least twice.
Chris Zaboji was finishing a run close to Lafayette Square when he heard the loud crash of the U-Haul truck hitting the barrier.
He said he took out his phone and captured the moment the truck struck the barrier again before he heard sirens approaching.
He said: “When the van backed up and rammed it again, I decided I wanted to get out of there.”
Officers searched the truck after the crash.
Based on a preliminary investigation, the driver “may have intentionally struck the security barriers at Lafayette Square”.
Kandula was arrested on multiple charges, including threatening to kill, kidnap or inflict harm on a president, vice president or member of their family, assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless driving, destruction of federal property and trespassing.
President Joe Biden was briefed on the crash.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said:
“He’s relieved that no one was injured last night.”
The US Secret Service monitors hundreds of people who have made threats to the president. However, it is unclear whether Kandula was on their radar at all or if he had threatened the president before, which would trigger the Secret Service’s involvement.
No attorney was listed for Kandula in court records and multiple telephone numbers listed under his surname in public records were out of service.
Lafayette Square, which offers perhaps the best view of the White House available to the public, has long been one of the nation’s most prominent venues for demonstrations.