Via ABC News:
Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary issued the following statement Monday morning: “On 1/26/15, at approximately 3:08 a.m., a Secret Service Uniformed Division officer posted on the South Grounds of the White House complex 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. There was an immediate alert and lockdown of the complex until the device was examined and cleared. An investigation is underway to determine the origin of this commercially available device, motive, and to identify suspects. As additional information becomes available we will update our statement.”
A security expert on CNN this morning noted that drones present a unique challenge: “How do you shoot them down? This is downtown DC, where do the bullets go?”
UPDATE: From the New York Times:
The small drone that crashed into a tree on the South Lawn of the White House early Monday morning was operated by a government employee who has told the Secret Service that he did not mean to fly it over the White House fence and near the president’s residence, according to law enforcement officials. The employee — who does not work for the White House — has told the Secret Service that he was flying the drone for recreational purposes at about 3 a.m. in the area around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when he lost control of it. So far, the Secret Service said it believed the man’s account. The small, commercial quad copter drone crashed on the southeast grounds, forcing a brief lockdown of the White House complex, the Secret Service said. Officials said in a statement that a Secret Service officer posted on the south grounds of the White House “heard and observed” the device, which was about two feet in diameter, at about 3:08 a.m.