WASHINGTON - A Tennessee woman accused of intentionally ramming a van into a security barrier near the White House has been ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation following an appearance in federal court on Monday.
Jessica Ford is facing several charges after being arrested by the Secret Service last Friday after her vehicle struck a barricade located at 17th and E streets in Northwest D.C. at the White House complex. The incident led to a temporary lockdown at the White House. No law enforcement officers were injured and no shots were fired during the incident.
According to charging documents, Ford was driving a white Chevy van and hit a wedge barrier after failing to comply with a Secret Service officer’s instruction to turn and stop the vehicle. She reversed her vehicle afterwards and struck the barrier two additional times.
The documents say two officers, one of each side of the van, ordered the 35-year-old woman to get out of the vehicle, but she instead pressed on the accelerator, causing the vehicle’s tires to spin out and generating a lot of smoke.
The officers saw what appeared to be a gun in Ford’s hand pointed away from the officers. After ordering her to drop the weapon, one of the officers reached through the driver’s side window and removed the gun from Ford’s hand. With the vehicle locked and after several orders to exit the vehicle, the officers pulled Ford through the driver’s side window, documents say.
The weapon recovered by the officers was later determined to be a BB gun that resembles a Beretta 9 mm pistol.
“Ford spontaneously told officers that she had come to the White House to visit her husband James Burris, who she asserted lived in the White House with her children,” the court documents said.
Ford was known to the Secret Service after a series of incidents where she was arrested near the White House last year.
In April, police say she attempted to jump a security barrier in front of the White House. Ford pleaded guilty to an unlawful entry charge and was issued a stay-away order barring her from being near the White House.
A month later, she was arrested for trying to scale the White House fence and violating the stay-away order.
Then in July, she was arrested again for violating the order. She pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge and as part of a plea agreement, charges for the May incident were dismissed.
A judge sentenced Ford to 120 days in jail, but it was suspended on the condition that she complete a year of supervised probation.
The mental health evaluation for Ford is scheduled on Wednesday. She was also ordered held pending a detention hearing on Thursday.