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'Quad Copter' Flew Into, Crashed On White House Grounds, Secret Service Says

Secret Service officers patrol in front of the White House on Jan. 20.

Updated at 11:04 a.m. ET

The Secret Service has identified the device that was found overnight on the White House grounds as a "quad copter."

The agency said an on-duty Secret Service officer saw and heard the 2-foot-wide commercial "quad copter" fly low onto the grounds of the executive mansion at about 3:08 a.m. ET. It crashed on the southeast side, the agency said in a statement.

"There was an immediate alert and lockdown of the complex until the device was examined and cleared," a spokesman said in the statement.

The spokesman said an investigation was under way.

Earlier, the White House said the device posed no threat to the first family.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are in India; their daughters, Sasha and Malia, stayed behind in Washington with their grandmother, Marian Robinson.

"There is a device that has been recovered by the Secret Service at the White House," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who is with Obama in New Delhi. "The early indications are that it does not pose any sort of ongoing threat to anybody at the White House."

Drones, as we have previously reported, come in a variety of sizes, and are used in counterterrorism, surveillance, aerial photography and even as toys.

The incident follows a spate of security lapses at the White House for which the Secret Service has been widely criticized. As we previously reported:

"The Secret Service was criticized last year after several lapses, including one in which a knife-wielding man scaled the White House fence and made it inside the executive mansion's main level. The scandal resulted in the resignation of its then-director, Julia Pierson.

"In December, a panel appointed by the Department of Homeland Security recommended changes at the Secret Service, saying it was 'starved for leadership.' "

Several top officials at the Secret Service were asked to leave earlier this month.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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