Prosecutors: Local man accused of planning to attack White House should stay in jail pending trial

Published: May. 29, 2023 at 6:48 PM CDT
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(KMOV) -- Federal prosecutors are trying to keep a St. Louis man they claim attempted to attack the White House behind bars, arguing he is a flight risk and “extreme threat” to public safety.

Last Monday, investigators in Washington, D.C. say 19-year-old Sai Kandula of Chesterfield rammed a rental truck into barriers near the White House. Kandula is due in federal court Tuesday for a detention hearing.

Last week Kandula, a Marquette High School graduate, flew on a one-way ticket from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. Investigators say Kandula rented a truck and then drove to the White House. Investigators say Kandula spent six months planning the attack.

Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, federal prosecutors filed a memo with the court saying they believe Kandula’s actions are a federal crime of terrorism and that he should be in jail pending trial.

In the memo, federal prosecutors include images from surveillance video that they say show Kandula driving the truck onto a walkway. Investigators say the pictures show the truck narrowly missing two people standing there. The memo includes images of Kandula appearing to hold a Nazi flag and show him laying on the ground with the flag before his arrest.

In the memo, prosecutors point to comments Kandula made to agents saying his plan was to “get to the White House, seize power, and be put in charge of the nation.”

The memo also details a “green book” obtained by investigators. Prosecutors say Kandula wrote multiple entries in the book, including ones “about harming family members and other individuals.”

The memo includes an excerpt from the book of what prosecutors believe was a planned speech for after Kandula seized power. It reads, “Any opposition will be met with death penalty to make it clear.”

Prosecutors claim Kandula is a flight risk. They say he has no ties to the Washington, D.C. area, no stable income and only performed temporary “gig jobs.” Prosecutors say Kandula has family in India who he’s visited. He could face deportation because he is not a U.S. citizen, but he is a lawful permanent resident.

Kandula is currently charged with one federal count of depredation of property. If found guilty, Kandula could spend a maximum of 10 years in prison.

His next hearing is set for Tuesday afternoon.

During a hearing last week, a public defender assigned to Kandula argued that there was no evidence that this was an intentional attack.