Video Producer: Aparna Singh
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
Indian-origin teenager Sai Varshith Kandula was arrested after crashing a rented truck near the White House on Wednesday, 24 May, threatening to kill President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
ABC News reported that three law enforcement sources confirmed that Kandula told law enforcement that “he wanted to seize power, take over the government and kill the President”.
The 19-year-old has been charged with threatening to kill, kidnap or inflict harm on the president, vice president or their family members after “unintentionally” crashing a U-Haul box truck into bollards and barriers outside Lafayette Park in Washington DC.
Kandula later told the Secret Service that he had bought a one-way ticket from St. Louis to Washington DC as a part of his six-month plan to “get to the White House, seize power, and be put in charge of the nation”. He also said he would “kill the President” if needed, ABC News reported.
Additionally, he has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle and damage to US property.
Sergeant Thomas Twiname of the US Park Police confirmed to the American news magazine Newsweek that a Nazi flag was recovered from the truck. Along with it, a black backpack and a roll of duct tape were also seen being retrieved from the truck. The vehicle’s cargo area appeared to be empty.
An admirer of Nazi ideology, he bought the Nazi flag online because of his admiration for the Nazis’ “great history” and their “authoritarian nature, eugenics, and their one world order,” according to the warrant. He also said that he looked up to Hitler.
A report by ABC News mentioned that he allegedly waved the flag and shouted as he exited the truck when he saw officers approaching to detain him.
What Really Happened?
At approximately 9:40 pm on Monday, 22 May, Kandula reportedly “intentionally” crashed into the bollards on the 1600 block of H Street northwest of Lafayette Park, (around 36 feet away from the White House) according to United States Park Police and Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi. He also confirmed that no one was injured.
According to reports, a witness, Chris Zaboji, said the driver smashed into the barrier at least twice. Zaboji, a 25-year-old pilot who lives in Washington, was finishing a run close to Lafayette Square when he heard the loud crash of the U-Haul truck hitting the barrier.
Kandula had legally rented the U-Haul truck in Herndon, Virginia. According to U-Haul, he had a valid contract in his own name. The company also said that U-Haul trucks can be rented at 18 years of age, and that there were no concerns raised looking at his rental record that could have prevented the contract to be issued.
Who Is Sai Varshith Kandula?
Kandula is from Chesterfield, a suburb in St Louis in the US state of Missouri.
A spokesperson for Marquette Senior High School, Chesterfield, which is part of the Rockwood School District, in the greater St. Louis area, confirmed to Newsweek that the teen graduated from the school in 2022.
A LinkedIn profile that matches the description shows that the Missouri resident was interested in a career in data analytics and had experience and certification in several programming and coding languages.
“I currently do not have any job experience, since this is why I am actively searching for jobs in order for me to apply my skills when I do get a job in order to build experience in a company, although I learned and taken multiple credential courses about programming, and coding languages for about five years, which is the kind of experience I would say I have had besides a job experience,” his LinkedIn profile said.