A heavily armed man was arrested with an unauthorized inauguration pass at a Washington checkpoint near the Capitol in the US. The man, identified as Wesley Allen Beeler, was carrying an unregistered gun with hundreds of ammunition as per the Capitol Police.
Beeler, 31, from Front Royal, Virginia, was trying to enter an inauguration checkpoint near Lower Senate Park on Friday evening after 6.30 PM when he was stopped and arrested with a handgun on him as per the law enforcement. His truck, a Ford F-150, had 509 rounds of 9mm ammo, nearly two dozen 12-gauge shotgun shells and a 17-round Glock 17 magazine as per court documents.
"The Suspect presented a non-government issued credential, and the officers observed a handgun in plain sight in the Suspect's vehicle. A search of the vehicle also found numerous rounds of ammunition," the Capitol Police said in a statement.
While Beeler did not resist arrest, it sent shockwaves through DC police ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20. Washington DC is under lockdown following the riot at the Capitol on January 6. Thousands of National Guard personnel have been deployed with police intelligence and the FBI indicating that there could be armed protests all over the country.
As for Beeler, a Capitol Police spokesperson said, he was charged with carrying a pistol without a license and possession of an unregistered firearm and ammunition. However, he was released on personal recognizance on Saturday after a hearing despite the judge asking three times whether they wanted him in custody.
After his release, Beeler told the reporters that it was an "honest mistake". According to him, he was hired as security personnel in Washington to guard media equipment at Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue NW. He forgot to carry the license as he was in a hurry. Halfway through the capital, he remembered that he had forgotten the license but decided against turning around as he was running late. However, Beeler denied carrying over 500 rounds of ammo.
"I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in DC because I'm a country boy. I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me," a tearful Beeler told the reporters.
A source told Washington Post that Beeler was given a badge from the MVP Protective Services for inaugural events that was not recognized by the officers as it was not issued by the government. Capitol Police said that the credentials Beeler had did not authorize him to enter the restricted area.
Furthermore, his truck's bumper stickers raised suspicion. The Ford F-150 had stickers that read "Assault Life" and "If they come for your guns give 'em your bullets first". Beeler, although, denied any association with extremist groups, his social media accounts showed him supporting pro-gun and pro-MAGA groups.
"It was just me forgetting to take it out of my truck before I left for work. I don't know what the DC laws are. It still comes back on me, but I'm not a criminal," he said, adding that the MVP credentials that he was given were enough for him enter restricted areas earlier.
Beeler's wife, Noelle Beeler, defended her husband saying that she could understand the fear and concern of the law enforcement as he was carrying a Glock and hundreds of ammo but he wasn't a bad person. "It's understandable during these times. It does sound suspicious," she said. As per the court order, Beeler cannot return to DC other than appearing in court or meeting his lawyer.