Man with Nazi flag, Sai Varshith Kandula, who crashed U-Haul near White House praised Hitler

White House-Photo: REUTERS-Jason Reed

WASHINGTON – A 19-year-old Missouri man with a Nazi flag who police say crashed a rented U-Haul truck into a barrier near the White House on Monday, May 22, 2023, night told authorities he planned to seize power and kill the president if he had to, according to newly released court records.

The man, identified as Sai Varshith Kandula, told police he bought the flag because “Nazis have a great history” and he admired their “authoritarian nature, Eugenics, and their one world order,” according to the court document. He called Adolf Hitler “a strong leader” and said he would “hurt anyone that would stand in my way,” the court document says.

Man who crashed a U Haul truck into barricades near White House, identified as Sai Varshith Kandula, May 22, 2023. This photo was being circulated on numerous news websites. PHOTO Twitter @Ashoswai (Ashok Swain)

But the document – a statement of facts attested to by a Secret Service agent – says Kandula was not carrying any weapons or ammunition, and no explosives were found in his U-Haul. After twice striking the metal bollards on H Street NW near 16th Street, he got out, and an officer ordered him to the ground and detained him, the document says.

The impact with the barriers, which prevent vehicles from entering Lafayette Square north of the White House, left the front end of the U-Haul smoking and leaking fluid, the document says.

U.S. Park Police, which has jurisdiction at Lafayette Square, said early Tuesday that Kandula was arrested on charges that included threatening to kill, kidnap or inflict harm on the president, vice president or a family member; assault with a dangerous weapon; and trespassing. But court records show he is facing just one count of destruction of property pertaining to the damaged bollards.

Kandula – who lives in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield, Mo., and graduated from high school last year – made a brief appearance in D.C. Superior Court on Tuesday. He is to be arraigned in federal court in the District on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in the District declined to comment on charging decisions. Sgt. Thomas Twiname, a spokesman for the Park Police, said that he could not discuss decisions made by prosecutors but that the arraignment Wednesday (May 24) “is just the start of judicial proceedings.”

Kandula’s attorney, Theo Shaw, said during the Superior Court hearing that there was no evidence that the crash was anything more than a mistake, and that there were no credible witnesses alleging any threats. But Magistrate Judge Judith Pipe said she considered Kandula a flight risk and ordered him jailed until he appears in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

Pipe said in court that Kandula had no criminal history, but she was concerned because he lacked a fixed address and had been in the District only a day when the incident occurred.

A man who identified himself as Kandula’s father, reached by telephone Tuesday evening, said he was being questioned by the FBI and could not immediately discuss the matter. Efforts to reach him later, as well as other relatives and associates, were not successful.

President Biden was home in the White House when the crash occurred, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. She said Park Police and Secret Service officials briefed Biden on the incident Tuesday morning, and the president was “relieved that no one was injured . . . and grateful to the agents and a law enforcement officer who responded so quickly.”

In the court document, a special agent with the Secret Service said that Kandula told investigators he had planned the attack for six months and flown into Dulles International Airport on a one-way ticket from St. Louis on Monday night, arriving about 90 minutes before the crash. Police said he rented the U-Haul near the airport and drove “directly to the White House.”

About 9:30 p.m., police said, a Park Police officer saw the orange and white U-Haul being driven east on H Street, then turning onto a pedestrian entrance for Lafayette Square. Police said the truck got onto a sidewalk, forcing pedestrians to flee, before it struck the barrier.

Police said the driver then backed up and “lurched forward,” striking the barriers a second time, according to the document.

Chris Zaboji said he was finishing a five-mile run near the White House when he heard what he described as a “huge crash.”

The 25-year-old airline pilot, who lives in the District, said the crash “seemed intentional from where I was standing.” He said he started recording after the first crash, and his video captures the second.

Police said Kandula got out of the driver’s seat, walked toward the back of the truck and removed a red and white flag with a Nazi swastika from a black backpack.

As a precaution, authorities evacuated the nearby Hay-Adams hotel, and roads and walkways were closed during the investigation, according to the Secret Service.

The court document says Kandula told police that his plan was “to get to the White House, seize power, and be put in charge of the nation.” He said he would “kill the president of the United States if that’s what I have to do and would hurt anyone that would stand in my way,” according to the document.

But Kandula did not seem deterred that he was quickly taken into custody, according to the court document, telling investigators, “Either way, whether I get into the White House or not, my message was received.” He told police he had a “green book” in which he recorded his thoughts and wrote what he would do if he were in charge. No other details were provided.

David Morrison, a spokesman for the school system that includes Chesterfield, said Kandula graduated early from Marquette High School, and had participated in the student council during his sophomore year and with the boys’ tennis team during his sophomore and junior years.

“We are not granting interviews at this time,” Morrison said.

On a LinkedIn page, Kandula wrote that he is interested in finding a job in data analytics and computer coding.



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