A Nazi swastika flag was found after a rented truck rammed into security barriers on Lafayette Square, quite close to the White House grounds in Washington DC.
The flag alongside plastic evidence bags were seen laid out on the road immediately after the crash. A Reuters witness stated that investigators found the flag, which according to them apparently came from inside the truck.
Washington DC authorities have detained truck driver, which was deemed safe by District of Columbia police. There were no injuries or ongoing danger.
“Preliminary investigation reveals the driver may have intentionally struck the security barriers at Lafayette Square,” Anthony Guglielmi, the chief of communications for the Secret Service, said on Twitter.
US park police would file charges with investigative support from the Secret Service, he added.
WUSA television showed video of a box-type U-Haul truck stopped alongside a row of steel bollards, with uniformed law-enforcement officers and a dog approaching the vehicle. A remote-controlled robot pried open the truck’s rear door, revealing a trolley but no other obvious cargo.
Chris Zaboji, a witness to the crash, posted a brief video on social media showing the truck driving into the barricades. The video was verified by Reuters. After crashing once, the driver hit the barriers a second time, he said.
Zaboji, 25, an airline pilot who lives in Washington, said he had just finished jogging on the National Mall and was walking home when he heard a loud crash.
“I looked back and saw that the U-Haul van had rammed into the barricade. I backed away behind a guy on a golf cart and took the video on my phone. After I saw it rammed again. I didn’t want to be anywhere near the truck and left,” Zaboji said.
A previous tweet from Guglielmi said nobody from the White House or Secret Service was injured.
The exact location of the president, Joe Biden, at the time was unclear. He met the speaker of the US House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, at the White House earlier on Monday evening.
The nearby Hay Adams hotel was evacuated at the request of the Secret Service, the Washington Post reported, citing a hotel official, while the Secret Service said some roads and pedestrian walkways around the park were closed.
A spokesperson for the Washington fire department said a call came in at 9.40pm (1.40am GMT) for what was described as a suspicious package investigation.
Soon there was a major law-enforcement and public safety response, before investigators determined the contents of the mostly empty truck were harmless.