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[WASHINGTON] A small drone crash-landed on the grounds of the White House early Monday, prompting officials to declare a security lockdown until they were able to determine that it posed no risk.
The device was spotted shortly after 3:00 am (0800 GMT) by a uniformed Secret Service officer on the south grounds of the White House complex, the US Secret Service said in a statement.
The drone was operated by a government employee who told the Secret Service he did not mean to fly the device over the White House grounds, the New York Times reported.
The man, who was being questioned, does not work for the White House, the paper said, citing law enforcement officials, who added the Secret Service so far believed the man's account of events.
President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were not at the White House at the time, as they are on a visit to India. Their children, Malia and Sasha, however are in Washington.
The uniformed Secret Service officer "heard and observed a 'quad copter' device, approximately two feet in diameter, flying at a very low altitude and ultimately crashing on the southeast side of the complex," the statement said.
"There was an immediate alert and lockdown of the complex until the device was examined and cleared." The agency said an investigation has been launched "to determine the origin of this commercially available device, motive, and to identify suspects." The Secret Service, which provides protection for the US president and about 30 other senior figures, has made headlines after a handful of security breaches at the White House that led to a sweeping reorganisation, including the resignation last year of its director.