A federal grand jury has indicted Joseph Clifford Reel of Kettering on charges of crashing his Jeep last month into steel barriers near the White House and jumping a fence to get on to the grounds.
The three-count indictment, handed down last Thursday, charges Reel with causing more than $1,000 in damages to federal property, entering the restricted grounds of the White House without permission, and illegally possessing more than 200 rounds of ammunition.
Reel, 32, has been held in a Washington prison since the June 9 incident. During a hearing last month, U.S. Magistrate John M. Facciola questioned whether Reel suffers from a “serious mental illness,’’ adding that notes seized from Reel’s Jeep suggested he might want to harm President Barack Obama.
William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, could not be reached to comment if a trial date has been set.
According to federal prosecutors, Reel rigged the accelerator of his 2008 Jeep Patriot so it could operate without a driver and reach a speech of 45 mph. Shortly after 3 a.m., June 9, the Jeep slammed into a light post, a steel bike rack and a barrier near the White House, causing at least $7,800 in damages.
After the Jeep crashed into the barriers, Secret Service officers saw a man on a bicycle on 17th Street near the Old Executive Office Building, which is next to the White House. When the man jumped the fence surrounding the old Executive Office Building, which houses offices for the White House staff, Secret Service officers arrested him.
A search of Reel’s Jeep produced 200 rounds of ammunition and two machetes, but no guns nor explosives. The Jeep contained a notebook that included references to a “signal to take him down,” prompting Facciola to wonder if the “him” was a reference to Obama.
When law enforcement officials searched Reel’s Kettering home, they discovered a Glock 21 .45-caliber pistol, a Taurus .22-caliber firearm, a baseball bat with spikes on the barrel, a sword, a spear, two ballistics vests, four hunting knives and a gas mask.
At the time of his arrest, Reel was an armed security guard with Moonlight Security in Dayton. Prior to the White House incident, Reel’s wife, Rebekah, obtained a temporary restraining order preventing him from returning to their Kettering home.
At last month’s hearing, Reel’s court-appointed attorney, Tony Miles, argued that Reel did not mean to harm anyone, but merely was “engaging in an act of civil disobedience.’’
Reel apparently wanted to spray paint the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me’’ somewhere on the White House grounds.