Quadcopter drone crashes on White House grounds

The crash on the southeast side of the compound early Monday sends the White House into lockdown. But the Secret Service determines there's no threat.

Anthony Domanico
CNET freelancer Anthony Domanico is passionate about all kinds of gadgets and apps. When not making words for the Internet, he can be found watching Star Wars or "Doctor Who" for like the zillionth time. His other car is a Tardis.
Anthony Domanico
2 min read

A drone not unlike this DJI Phantom quadcopter was discovered on White House grounds early Monday morning. DJI

The US Secret Service said Monday that a quadcopter drone crashed on the White House grounds just after 3 a.m. ET, causing a brief lockdown while the agency investigated to determine if there was a threat to the site.

After it ruled out a potential threat, the Secret Service revealed that the drone was a run-of-the-mill quadcopter that is sold in stores, though stopped short of identifying the exact make and model. The crash occurred on the southeast side of the compound.

The Secret Service is still working to determine who was controlling the drone, though no additional information on suspects was provided. The Federal Aviation Administration bans unmanned aerial flight systems in a 10-nautical-mile area around Washington's Reagan National Airport, which according to Time would include the White House, Pentagon and the CIA.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were in India at the time. There's no word on whether other family members were staying in the White House when the drone crashed this morning.

Even though it may be tempting to get an inside look at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with your fancy new drone, the risk far outweighs the reward as you'd likely end up in jail, or at least on the wrong side of a Secret Service interrogation. So remember, if you try to take drone images of the White House, you'll probably end up in the Big House.

Update, 1:35 p.m. PT: According to The New York Times, the Secret Service confirmed that the drone was operated by a government employee who was flying it for recreational use. The employee told the Secret Service he didn't intend to fly it over the White House's fence or even near the president's residence, but lost control of the drone near the White House.

"The individual has been interviewed by Secret Service agents and been fully cooperative. Initial indications are that this incident occurred as a result of recreational use of the device," the statement from the Secret Service said.