US Capitol Police have arrested a man who allegedly sought to pass a police checkpoint in Washington DC while carrying an “unauthorised” pass to president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, along with a loaded handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition.
An affidavit filed in DC Superior Court claims that Wesley Allen Beeler had a Glock semi-automatic pistol in his truck’s centre armrest as he passed through a checkpoint on Friday. He presented an “unauthorised inauguration credential” to police, according to the police report. “The credential presented was not authorised to enter the restricted area,” police said.
Police also discovered more than 500 rounds of ammunition, including a magazine for the handgun, a bandolier filled with shotgun shells, and hollow-point bullets. The Glock was loaded with a round in the chamber. A bumper sticker on his truck reportedly said “if they come for your guns, give ’em your bullets first”.
He was arrested for possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of unregistered ammunition.
A judge has released him on personal recognizance but issued a stay-away order from the District. He cannot legally enter the city except to meet with a lawyer or for court appearances.
National Guard service members have joined increased law enforcement presence in the nation’s capital, with as many as 25,000 troops expected on the ground for the ceremony on 20 January, following a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol and threats of more far-right violence to follow.
Barricades have been erected around the Capitol, and the National Mall is closed to the public over the two-mile stretch from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol steps.
Bridges entering DC will be blocked over a three-day period from 6am on 19 January to 6am on 21 January, effectively sealing off the city in the day before and after the president-elect’s swearing-in ceremony.
An intelligence bulletin shared among federal law enforcement agencies on 13 January warned that the Capitol riots will fuel far-right violence leading up to the inauguration.
Federal law enforcement warned that “domestic violence extremists” may “exploit the aftermath of the Capitol breach by conducting attacks to destabilize and force a climactic conflict in the United States,” the memo said.
The attacks in Washington DC and the deaths of rioters, including a woman who was fatally shot by Capitol Police, will “very likely serve as a significant driver of violence” and galvanise groups and inspire “more sporadic, lone-actor or small-cell violence” against others, according to the bulletin, released by the FBI, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center.