3 Arrested in Separate White House Incidents : Crime: Latest occurrences were nonviolent. Officials say risk of ‘copycat syndrome’ may be developing.

<i> from Associated Press</i>

A bizarre series of attacks and incidents around the White House continued Friday when two men were arrested before dawn, one carrying a semiautomatic handgun and another claiming he had a plutonium bomb in his car.

A third man was arrested Wednesday night after he slipped onto the White House grounds when a gate was opened briefly, authorities reported.

Secret Service and U.S. Park Police officers said the three incidents were unrelated and none posed a threat to President Clinton. But coming on the heels of a plane crash and three shootings around the White House in recent months, officials acknowledged the risk of a “copycat syndrome” developing.


In the latest series of incidents:

* Shortly before 3 a.m. Friday, a man claiming to have a bomb in his car pulled over near the White House fence, jumped out of the car and was chased down by Park Police and Secret Service officers.

“He said he had a bomb made out of plutonium,” said Park Police Maj. Robert Hines. Hines said the car contained no explosive device of any kind.

He was identified as Joseph Maggio, 36, of Annapolis, Md., and was committed to a hospital for observation.

* At about 2 a.m. Friday, a man carrying a gun was arrested on the Ellipse.

He was identified as 27-year-old Franklin Ruff, who said he was moving to Washington from Las Vegas. He said he had a Las Vegas permit for the loaded 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun, said Park Police Lt. Phil Cholak.

Ruff was charged with carrying an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition.

* On Wednesday night, a man identified as Richard Green, 44, of Washington, was arrested for unlawful entry to the White House grounds.

Secret Service spokesman Curtis Eldridge said Green entered the grounds when the southwest gate was opened briefly to let a vehicle leave.


“I think he just kind of wandered in. He didn’t really express any interest in anybody in particular,” Eldridge said.