The US Capitol Police arrested a man at a security checkpoint in Washington on Friday after issuing an “unauthorized” housewarming pass and finding an unregistered pistol and more than 500 rounds of ammunition during a search of his truck.
The man arrested was a contractor, according to a federal law enforcement officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not empowered to discuss the arrest.
The arrest comes after police officers tried to fortify Washington ahead of the inauguration day on Wednesday, fearing extremists encouraged by President Trump’s supporters’ attack on the Capitol on January 6, may attempt violence cause. A militarized “green zone” is being established downtown, tens of thousands of National Guard members are flooding the city, and a metal fence is being erected around the Capitol grounds prior to the swearing-in of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The man arrested Friday night, Wesley A. Beeler of Front Royal, Virginia, had driven to a security checkpoint less than half a mile from the Capitol grounds and presented “an unauthorized personal induction badge” according to a statement from the Capitol Police officer filed in a District of Columbia court on Saturday. The officer, Roger Dupont, said he checked the ID against a list and found that the man’s ID did not allow him to enter the restricted area.
The officers searched the truck with several weapon-related bumper stickers and found a loaded Glock pistol, 509 cartridges for the pistol and 21 shotgun shells, police said. Mr Beeler had admitted having the Glock in the center console of the truck when asked if there were guns in the car, they said.
Mr. Beeler, who could not be reached for comment, was charged with five crimes, including possession of a gun and ammunition in Washington without being registered as required. The documents filed in court and an incident report from the city’s Metropolitan Police Department do not provide any information about why the man tried to gain access to a restricted area, nor do they provide any further details about the IDs presented by the police.
Police officials said they were alarmed by the chatter from far-right groups and other racist extremists threatening to target the nation’s capital to protest Mr Biden’s election victory. Federal authorities tried to prevent some people who violated the Capitol with weapons earlier this month from returning to the city, including by restricting their ability to board commercial aircraft, according to an administrative official.
For security reasons, Mr Biden has resisted requests to move the inauguration ceremony inside. His inauguration committee had already planned a reduced celebration with virtual components because of the corona virus.