The US Secret Service will carry out an investigation after a man armed with a knife jumped over the White House’s north fence and made it to the main entrance into the iconic building.
Barack Obama and his two daughters had just left the mansion on board the Marine One helicopter bound for Camp David when the breach occurred.
Much of the presidential residence was evacuated following the security alert shortly after 7pm on Friday at what is one of the world’s most highly protected buildings.
Video from the scene showed a man making it most of the way across the North Lawn and approaching the North Portico doors.
The Secret Service confirmed the man had jumped the fence and was apprehended just inside the doors. He was carrying a 3.5ins folding knife with a serrated blade, according to a criminal complaint.
White House staffers and some journalists inside the West Wing were led out by Secret Service officers, some with their weapons drawn.
Those evacuated were allowed back in about half an hour later.
The Secret Service identified the suspect as 42-year-old Omar J Gonzalez, from Copperas Cove, Texas.
He was charged with unlawful entry into the White House complex and was taken to a nearby hospital complaining of chest pain.
First Lady Michelle Obama had travelled separately to the presidential retreat in Maryland and was not at home.
Although it is not uncommon for people to make it over the White House fence, they are typically stopped almost immediately and rarely get very far.
The Secret Service has stepped up security outside the White House after a second man was arrested on Saturday after arriving at one of the gates on foot, then returning in a car to another gate and refusing to leave a vehicle screening area.
Director Julia Pierson has ordered enhanced officer patrols and surveillance along the North Fence of the compound. A review of the incident has also been ordered.
White House spokesman Frank Benenati said: “The president has full confidence in the Secret Service and is grateful to the men and women who day in and day out protect himself, his family and the White House.”.
It is the latest setback for an elite agency whose reputation has been hit in recent years.
In 2012, 13 Secret Service agents and officers were implicated in a prostitution scandal during preparations for Mr Obama’s trip to Cartagena, Colombia.
The next year, two officers were removed from the President’s detail after another alleged incident of sexually-related misconduct.
And in March, an agent was found drunk by staff at a Dutch hotel the day before Mr Obama was set to arrive in the Netherlands.