A man was arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police on Friday after officers found an unregistered gun and ammunition in his vehicle when he tried to present what the department called unauthorized housewarming at a security checkpoint, according to CNN.
The man who was arrested – a Virginian named Wesley Beeler – said Saturday that he was only on his way to work and that his arrest was due to an "honest mistake".
The arrest came after Beeler was stopped at a security checkpoint about half a mile from the Capitol. Beeler reportedly tried to go through the checkpoint with an unauthorized induction badge and when officers checked a list of people allowed to be in the area, he was not on it.
After the police stopped him, they reportedly searched his car and found a pistol, 509 rounds of pistol ammunition and 21 shotgun shells. The New York Times and CNN report that Beeler was asked if he had a gun in the vehicle and that he told police he had a loaded Glock pistol in the center console of the truck. His truck also reportedly had several weapon-related bumper stickers.
"Beeler is accused of possessing a hidden weapon with an unregistered firearm, illegal possession of ammunition, and a large capacity ammunition feeder," reports NBC Washington. The gun Beeler had was not registered in DC, according to NBC Washington; Owning an unregistered firearm is illegal and punishable in the district.
On Saturday, Beeler's father told The Times that his son was working on security with the Capitol Police. An anonymous federal law enforcement officer said he was a contractor and that his ID was not forged, according to the paper. Beeler was authorized to have a firearm for his security work, but the gun was not registered in Washington, DC, the Times reported.
After his release on Saturday, Beeler told the Washington Post that he had failed to remove his gun from his vehicle because he was late for work. He told the newspaper that he was working with MVP Protective Services and that this company had given him the proof of initiation, which was refused by the security forces.
"I drove to a checkpoint after getting lost in DC because I'm a compatriot," Beeler said. "I showed them the initiation badge that was given to me."
Beeler added, "I don't know what the DC laws are. It still comes back to me, but I'm not a criminal."
The arrest comes as security in Washington, DC increases pending the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20. After the violent attack on the Capitol on January 6th, normal initiation security was even more robust than usual. As Vox's Alex Ward reported, up to 25,000 National Guard members will be stationed in Washington in addition to thousands of police and intelligence officials.
The Secret Service has also worked with local officials, according to the Washington Post, to facilitate a large number of road closures, dividing the area around the White House, National Mall and Capitol into "red" and "green" zones. In the red zones that surround federal buildings and national monuments, traffic is restricted to registered vehicles. Residential and business traffic is permitted in the green zones surrounding these red zones.
Police officers were on high alert for additional violence after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol in a mob attack on the building that resulted in five deaths. The FBI has also issued warnings of possible demonstrations in the state capitals – and the U.S. Capitol – ahead of the inauguration day next Wednesday.
The officials also look back: Four committees of the House of Representatives have now launched an investigation into why security has not prevented the rioters from entering the Capitol, as reported by Aaron Rupar von Vox. Through the checkpoints and the presence of the troops, law enforcement officials hope to prevent a similar attack from occurring again.
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