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Suspect in U-Haul crash near White House will remain detained pending hearing next week

Kandula is accused of crashing a U-Haul truck into a security barrier near the White House earlier this week. (Bill Hennessy)

Kandula is accused of crashing a U-Haul truck into a security barrier near the White House earlier this week. (Bill Hennessy)
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The man accused of crashing a U-Haul truck into a security barrier near the White House earlier this week will remain in custody ahead of his detention hearing next week, a federal magistrate judge said Wednesday.

During Sai Varshith Kandula’s brief initial hearing in federal court on Wednesday, US Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather ordered the 19-year-old suspect to remain detained until his detention hearing on May 30.

Kandula is not a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors argued several reasons why Kandula should remain detained, noting that he has no local ties to Washington, DC, and poses a serious risk that he could flee.

The truck, which carried a Nazi flag among other items, crashed into security barriers on the north side of Lafayette Square at 16th Street just before 10 p.m. ET, Monday, the US Secret Service said. A preliminary investigation revealed the driver may have intentionally struck the barrier, the agency later said.

Kandula made threatening comments regarding the White House at the scene, including that he wanted to kidnap and harm President Joe Biden, law enforcement sources told CNN.

Wednesday, Kandula appeared in court wearing an orange jumpsuit. He spoke softly as he told the judge his name and answered standard questions from her, but he didn’t speak at length during the hearing.

Diane Shrewsbury, his court-appointed attorney, told the judge that Kandula’s glasses were taken after the crash and that he needed them back or would need the detention facility he’s being held at to issue him a new pair.

During the hearing, Meriweather informed Kandula that the charge he’s facing carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a US$250,000 fine, or a combination of the two. It also carries a mandatory restitution payment.

Kandula has been charged with one count of depredation of property of the United States in excess of US$1,000.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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