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A man with a loaded pistol and more than 500 ammunition was arrested in Washington at a checkpoint near the Capitol, where President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated in a few days, authorities said.
Wesley Allen Beeler, a native of neighboring Virginia, showed up at a checkpoint late Friday and attempted to use a false credential to gain access to the restricted area where the ceremony will take place on Wednesday, according to a document filed in court. Superior of Washington.
Police found a loaded pistol and more than 500 rounds of ammunition in the man’s possession, as well as shotgun shells and a magazine for the pistol. Stickers in defense of the right to carry weapons were also found on his truck.
Beeler was arrested on charges including possession of an unregistered firearm and illegal possession of ammunition, according to a police report.
“It was a mistake in good faith,” Beeler told the Washington Post after his release.
“I stopped at a checkpoint after getting lost in Washington because I’m a country boy,” he said. “I showed them the access badge to the ceremony that they gave me.”
Beeler told the newspaper that he works as a private security guard near the Capitol and presented a credential provided by his employer. He indicated that he was licensed to carry his gun in Virginia, but forgot to remove it from his car before leaving home for his night shift in Washington.
Prosecutors did not object to Beeler’s release from jail, the Washington Post said, although he was ordered to stay out of the capital except for court-related matters.
After the violent assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6, in which five people died, Washington is a fortified city: a barrier of concrete blocks and barbed wire surrounds the Congress building, thousands of members of the Guard Nacional have been deployed and downtown streets have been blocked.
Authorities fear new problems on the sidelines of Biden’s inauguration ceremony on January 20, as well as possible acts of violence in other parts of the country.
Members of the National Guard have been mobilized in several states and fences have been erected around some local parliaments, such as in California and Minnesota.
Normally, the inauguration ceremony is an opportunity every four years for hundreds of thousands of Americans to flock to the capital and purchase all kinds of products bearing the image of their president, before seeing him take the oath on the steps of the Capitol.
But this year the National Mall, the vast esplanade at the foot of the Capitol, will be closed to the public.
Only duly accredited persons will be allowed into the area and the number of soldiers patrolling the capital is likely to exceed the number of spectators there.
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