U.S. Capitol Police reportedly arrested a Virginia man at a checkpoint Friday evening who was allegedly carrying “unauthorized” credentials, an unregistered handgun, and more than 500 rounds of ammunition.
Wesley Allen Beeler, 31, of Front Royal, Virginia, was stopped by police at around 6:30 p.m., when he attempted to penetrate a security checkpoint at North Capitol Street and E Street NE, just a few blocks north of the U.S. Capitol, according to a police report and law enforcement source who spoke to CNN.
Beeler reportedly told police he was carrying a Glock semi-automatic pistol in his pick-up truck, which was loaded with 17 rounds of ammunition and ready to fire. He gave officers what was described as a credential “not authorized to enter the restricted area.”
After a brief appearance in Washington, D.C., Superior Court, Beeler was released Saturday and a law enforcement official assured CNN that he is not considered a threat to public safety. Beeler was ordered to stay out of Washington, D.C., upon his release, a condition to which government prosecutors did not object.
In addition to the gun, police confiscated a magazine for the pistol, as well as shotgun shells and 509 rounds of ammo.
Among Beeler’s charges were possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of unregistered ammunition.
After its original report, CNN updated its article to clarify that the credential Beeler presented to police was not fake, but simply “unauthorized,” according to a law enforcement official. Beeler had a “a non-government issued credential,” according to Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki.
Charlotte Beeler, Wesley’s mother, explained that her son was employed in armed security and had been working a job on Capitol Hill in recent days.
Washington, D.C., is under an extensive security lockdown following the violent riot that roiled the Capitol building last week, which led to multiple injuries and five deaths.
The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden will be inaccessible to the public, who have been encouraged to participate virtually. The entire two-mile stretch of the National Mall, where the public has traditionally gathered to watch former inaugurations on jumbotrons, has been shut in an unprecedented precaution.
The Daily Wire reported:
The entire National Mall was shut to the public Friday morning as one of the many unprecedented security measures being taken to protect next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Citing last week’s violent riot at the Capitol, the National Park Service instituted a “temporary public closure” of the National Mall at the request of the U.S. Secret Service.
“The unprecedented nature of the recent civil unrest at the U.S. Capitol coupled with the real and substantial threat of violence and unlawful behavior poses an unprecedented public safety and security challenge,” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement.
The two-mile length of the National Mall stretches from the Capitol to the Potomac River, along which lies the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. Presidential inaugurations used to be held on the east side of the Capitol until President Ronald Reagan, who moved them in 1981 to the west side in front of the National Mall.
On Thursday evening, Vice President Mike Pence attended a Department of Homeland Security briefing with top officials regarding the measures being taken to secure the upcoming presidential inauguration against threats. Approximately 20,000 troops are estimated to be on the ground guarding much of the nation’s capital, which is under a lockdown that encompasses not just the Capitol and National Mall, but also large parts of downtown and the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
This article has been expanded after publication to include additional information.
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