MIDLAND, Texas — An Iraq war veteran accused of scaling a fence and making it into the White House before the Secret Service stopped him owns several guns that he could have taken with him if he had meant to harm anyone, his former stepson said Sunday.
Omar Gonzalez, 42, was arrested Friday and is expected in federal court Monday to face charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a dangerous weapon — a small folding knife.
Jerry Murphy, whose mother was married to Gonzalez for several years, said Gonzalez suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and needs medical treatment, not to be treated like a criminal. He said that Gonzalez has been driving across the country and living out of his truck for the past couple of years and that he always carries his knife.
''I know he's got heavy artillery, you know? He's got all kinds of weapons and he was trained to use them,'' Murphy said. ''I believe if he wanted to make a scene or cause problems, he very well could have. But it's clear that he didn't.''
The Secret Service has come under heavy criticism since the embarrassing breach, which happened when the first family was not at the White House.
The Army said Gonzalez enlisted in 1997 and completed his obligation in 2003. He reenlisted in July 2005 and served until his retirement in late 2012, serving in Iraq from October 2006 to January 2008.
Samantha Bell, who is Gonzalez's former wife and Murphy's mother, said Gonzalez was honorably discharged for medical reasons and suffered from plantar fasciitis on his feet, on which he had had some surgeries. She said he also suffered from PTSD.
Bell said she and Gonzalez married in 2006 and lived near Fort Hood until she split up with him in 2010 because of his worsening mental condition. After his second tour in Iraq, Gonzalez began carrying a .45 on his hip at all times and kept rifles and shotguns behind the doors in their home, said Bell.
"Omar is a good guy; he's just got some issues that he needs help with. I think this is a cry out for help,'' she said.