A man sparked an evacuation at the White House on Friday after he scaled and jumped over a fence and made it into the building before being captured.

US President Barack Obama and his family were not at the White House at the time, though officials and journalists were rushed out of the building during the disturbance that began on the North Lawn around 7:20 pm (12.20am Irish time) on Friday, the Secret Service said.

Mr Obama and his family had left by helicopter just minutes before, headed for Camp David, the presidential weekend retreat.

Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary identified the suspect as Omar Gonzalez, 42, from Copperas Cove, Texas.

"It appeared to responding officers that he was unarmed, which turned out to be true," Mr Leary added. 

"Gonzalez ignored the commands of those officers to stop and ultimately was apprehended by officers just inside the North Portico doors of the White House."

Mr Leary said the suspect was taken to George Washington Hospital for a medical evaluation.

MrGonzalez was suffering from chest pains, according to a law enforcement official.

"Any time someone jumps the fence, there is a security breach and the Secret Service has to balance security with access and reasonableness," the official added.

"The location of the arrest - the White House - is not acceptable to the Secret Service and the response will be reviewed."