La Vergne woman 'knowingly struck' White House gate with 'pistol - WSMV News 4

La Vergne woman 'knowingly struck' White House gate with 'pistol in her hand'

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Photo: NBC News via Twitter Photo: NBC News via Twitter
Jessica R. Ford (Credit: Rutherford Co. Sheriff) Jessica R. Ford (Credit: Rutherford Co. Sheriff)

The White House was put on lockdown Friday after a LaVergne woman with a "history of mental issues" struck a security barrier. According to officials, this is not the first time she has caused problems in Washington, however this time, she showed up with a pistol in her hand.  

The driver was immediately apprehended by the Secret Service, and no law enforcement personnel were injured during the incident, the Secret Service confirmed on Twitter

After the crash, NBC officials quickly confirmed that the white Chevy SUV that crashed into the security has a Tennessee license plate from Rutherford County. Early reports also identified the driver as a female. 

In an email to News4, District of Columbia Police Department identified the woman as Jessica R. Ford, 35, of La Vergne, Tenn.

According to the agency, Ford has had other encounters with the Secret Service, "resulting in numerous arrests for a variety of criminal violations," and said she had a history of mental health issues.

According to D.C. Police's incident report, officers on the scene saw that Ford's van was smoking after she hit the gate because she was "still trying to accelerate." 

Upon arrival, officers realized Ford was holding a gun pointed in the opposite direction of officers. She was told multiple times to drop the weapon but did not comply. At that point, officers forced her hand off the steering wheel and then removed the gun from her hand. 

Officers extracted her from the drivers-side window of the van and put her in handcuffs.

Once in custody, the incident report says, Ford uttered to officers that she "had the BB Gun because if James Burris was the President, the officers would shoot her to protect him and that she knowingly brought the gun with her" for protection. 

Ford was charged with eight offenses, including carrying a pistol without a license, possession of an unlicensed firearm or destructive device, aggravated assault of a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, unlawful entry, criminal contempt of court, and two counts of destroying government property. 

The U.S. Secret Service provided a statement on the incident that occurred Friday, saying:

“Today, Friday, February 23rd at 2:53 pm, a 35-year-old white female from LaVergne, Tennessee, intentionally drove a white van into a security barrier near the White House at 17th and E Street. The vehicle did not breach the security barrier of the White House complex. The female was immediately apprehended by Secret Service Uniformed Division Officers.  No law enforcement personnel were injured during the incident and no shots were fired. The Secret Service has had previous encounters with the female in the vicinity of the White House resulting in numerous arrests for a variety of criminal violations. The female was again charged today with numerous criminal violations and transported to the Metropolitan Police Department. The White House complex has returned to normal operations.”

President Donald Trump is at the White House today. The Secret Service said security was not breached in the episode.

Trump praised the agency's handling of the situation in a tweet Friday afternoon: "Thank you to the great men and women of the United States @SecretService for a job well done!"

The president had been hosting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House. Turnbull remained at the White House as the incident was being investigated.

This is not the first time Ford has made headlines for attempting to breach White House security. 

According to The Washington Post, a 34-year-old woman named Jessica Rhea Ford from La Vergne, Tenn. was arrested in April of 2017 for crawling over a crowd control barrier in front of the White House

That day, she was charged with misdemeanor "unlawful entry" and was ordered by a D.C. Superior Court judge to stay away from the White House grounds. 

Ford also has a lengthy criminal history in Davidson and Rutherford County. 

In July 2003, Smyrna Police charged Ford with public intoxication, misuse of 911, and resisting stop-and-frisk halt.

In Sept. 2003, she faced more charges from Tenn. Dept. of Safety officials, including DUI, refusing a blood-alcohol test, and violating open container laws.

Later that same year, Ford was cited on two occasions for felony prescription fraud. The first incident occurred in Murfreesboro in November, and the second in December in Smyrna. 

Her employment history also ends in 2003 -- when she was listed as a server at Waffle House and Demos' Restaurant in Smyrna. 

Ford faced several more charges from 2004 to 2006 that were related to the previous string of incidents, including multiple counts of violation of probation, resisting arrest, and failure to appear in court by Smyrna Police, Murfreesboro Police and the Rutherford Co. Sheriff's Office. 

She was jailed intermittently during that period, as well. 

Ford registered as an ex-con felony drug offender in Davidson Co. in Nov. of 2011. 

Soon after, she was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass by Metro Police in Dec. 2011, and failure to appear in court on those charges in Feb. 2012. Both incidents listed her under a different name, Jessica Ferrer. 

According to the affidavit from her 2011 arrest in Nashville, police say:

The defendant, Jessica Ferrer, was at Southern Hills hospital being disruptive while doctors and nurses was giving treatment to other patients. The defendant was not a patient of the hospital, but came in with someone who needed treatment. The defendant was asked to leave the examining room because she was preventing nurses and doctors to give treatment to patients. Defendant however refused to leave the room. The defendant was then escorted outside by security personnel. Once outside, security asked the defendant to leave the premise. Defendant once again refused to leave, and stated she was not going anywhere.

At this time, it is unclear if Ford remained in Tennessee between her 2012 arrest in Nashville and her April 2017 offense in Washington. 

According to officials, her last known residence in Tennessee was in March of 2012 at a home on McAlpine Avenue in East Nashville.

Ford is not the only Tennesseean that has caused a disturbance at or near the White House in recent years. 

On March 28, 2016, 66-year-old Larry Dawson of Antioch, Tenn., was arrested for shooting a Capitol police officer with a pellet gun at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. 

In Oct. of 2015, Dawson disrupted a House session by yelling he was "a prophet of God" in the chamber. 

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