Ex-wife of man who jumped White House fence speaks out

Published: .
Updated: .
The ex-wife of the man who jumped the White House fence Friday says he is a great guy who just needed help.

Omar Gonzalez, 42, appeared in federal court Monday. Prosecutors said he was a danger to the president. Investigators say he also had more than 800 rounds of ammunition, along with a machete and two hatchets.

Security video shows him scaling the fence, running up to the front doors, and making it all the way inside before getting caught. He was carrying a knife.

Gonzalez's ex-wife, Samantha Bell, lives in southern Indiana. She says Gonzalez was adored by her kids.

"He's a great guy. Everyone loved Omar. He was giddy, he was funny," Bell said.


Omar Gonzalez

They were married in 2006 and living in Texas. When he returned from one of his three tours in Iraq, Bell says Gonzalez had changed.

"He said, 'Sam, the only thing I can tell you, it involves little children.' And from that point on I knew whatever it was it bothered him, and he was not right," Bell said.

Bell says Gonzalez was never violent, but he would hear things, and once thought he was being poisoned.

"I noticed he was doing a lot of things that would make you uncomfortable...I know, whatever happened in Iraq, it affected him," Bell said.

"He would walk around the house with a .45 on his hip, he never left its sight," Bell said.

"He would constantly check the doors, the stove, the locks," Bell said.

Bell says Gonzalez was medicated and battling OCD, PTSD and schizophrenia. She eventually left him in 2010.

"I didn't understand. Looking back now thinking, I wish there was something that I could have done to help him," Bell said.

When it hit its lowest point, Gonzalez did not have a stable home. Bell says it took a year before he could get any help from the VA.

"From that time to a year later, the VA finally picked him up and started paying him. So within that whole time, he didn't have anything," Bell said. "He kicked into survivor mode, and he had to do what he had to do to survive....He loved his country. He would have fought and killed and died for his country because that's who he was."

While Gonzalez was battling OCD, PTSD and schizophrenia, a VA spokesperson told Eyewitness News there was no record of his seeking treatment at any VA Healthcare facility.

Meantime, Gonzalez's family says he wasn't trying to hurt anyone. The Secret Service has increased patrols while it investigates what happened.

Gonzalez is facing charges of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon.