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Veteran sparked Secret Service investigation as he shouted outside Mar-a-Lago

President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

The man who sparked a U.S. Secret Service investigation last week when he attempted to enter Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private Palm Beach club and primary residence, is a 34-year-old from Indiana, according to a heavily redacted incident report released Tuesday by Palm Beach police. The man has not been charged with a crime.

The Miami Herald is not publishing the man’s name out of concern for privacy regarding mental health. The police report notes that the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Behavioral Services unit was called to the scene. A police spokesperson said parts of the report were redacted because they included medical information covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The police report states that around 7 p.m. on Jan. 6, the man attempted to enter Mar-a-Lago through a side entrance on Southern Boulevard, shouting that he wanted something. The specifics of what he shouted were redacted from the report. A club security guard encountered the man at the gate. The man then returned to his black four-door vehicle parked in a lot across the street from the club, according to the report. Club security called the Palm Beach Police Department. An officer arrived at the scene, stopped the vehicle and questioned the man. The man’s statement was redacted from the report.

The officer then requested that the man turn off the 2013 Toyota and step out of the car, citing “officer safety reasons,” the report said. At that point the officer called for backup, including the U.S. Secret Service, which protects the president and his family, and the PBSO Behavioral Services unit.

Trump was not in Palm Beach during the incident, having left the club the previous day for Washington, D.C.

Social media accounts associated with the man’s name indicate that he is a veteran who has struggled with mental health issues in recent years. One account listed “ivankaslover” as his email address. The man was charged with public intoxication in Texas in 2009, but otherwise appears to have no criminal history.

Palm Beach police said at the time that the Secret Service was investigating.

“During an encounter with local law enforcement, an individual made nonthreatening statements about a person under Secret Service protection. As part of standard practice, Palm Beach police contacted the local Secret Service office,” a law enforcement official with knowledge of the incident told the Miami Herald.

The Secret Service declined to confirm Tuesday whether there was an investigation into the incident, citing the agency’s standard practice.

Suspicious incidents at Mar-a-Lago have increased since Trump became president, a Herald analysis of calls for service from the club to Palm Beach police found. Of at least 189 calls regarding suspicious activity or trespassing at the club since 2012, two-thirds were made since January 2017, the month Trump was inaugurated.

On March 30, 2019, Chinese national, Yujing Zhang attempted to enter Mar-a-Lago without a proper invite. She was arrested by the Secret Service and later convicted of trespassing and lying to a federal agent. She served eight months in federal detention and awaits deportation.

Zhang was intent on meeting a member of the Trump family to talk business, according to records of text messages presented by federal prosecutors during her trial. She was part of a growing Trump tourism industry in China. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping prompted a wave of Chinese tourism to the area.

Another Chinese national, Jing Lu, 56, entered the Mar-a-Lago estate on Dec. 18, 2019, through a gateless service drive around 12:47 p.m. and took photographs of buildings before club staff confronted her, according to a probable cause affidavit provided by Palm Beach police. She had already been turned away at the main entrance. The second time, Lu left the property on foot and headed north, away from the club. Club security called the police. She was charged with loitering and non-violently resisting arrest.

Police were called to respond to at least two other suspicious incidents at the club while the president was in town for the holidays, the calls for service records show. Details regarding those cases are still unknown.

Last week, two Chinese students from the University of Michigan were arrested for photographing defense installations at the U.S. Navy base in Key West. Two other similar incidents were recorded at the military installation since fall 2018.

All of these incidents — both at Mar-a-Lago and in Key West — have caught the eye of federal investigators who, in late 2018, launched a probe into possible Chinese espionage in South Florida.


© 2020 Miami Herald

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.