Update on Jan. 17 at 8:30 a.m.: The man arrested at an inauguration checkpoint in Washington, D.C. says he forgot he had a weapon in his truck, characterizing it as an “honest mistake.” Wesley Allen Beeler, 31, of Front Royal, Virginia said he had been working as a security guard in Washington, D.C. when he got lost and asked for directions. “I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in D.C. because I’m a country boy,” he told the Washington Post in what the paper describes a “tear-filled interview.” “I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me.”
Beeler doesn’t have extremist ties and cooperated with law enforcement officials. He was cleared from further investigation except for the charge of violating Washington law by carrying a gun without a license. Prosecutors did not object to Beeler being released. “I forgot that I had my weapon in my vehicle. You know, I’m a Virginia resident who has licensing and training in the state of Virginia for this firearm,” Beeler said. Although police say they found 509 rounds of ammunition and 21 shotgun shells, Beeler denied those numbers were accurate. “I’m not a bad person. I’m not connected to any hate groups. I’m not there to harm anybody,” he said.
Original post: The U.S. Capitol Police arrested a man in Washington, D.C. with an “unauthorized” inauguration credential. When law enforcement searched the Virginia man’s truck they found an unregistered handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition. Although the initial report by CNN claimed the man’s inauguration credential was fake, other reports later contradicted that assessment. A federal law enforcement official told the New York Times that the credential was not fake.
The man who was arrested, Wesley Beeler, drove up to the security checkpoint and presented a credential. But when a Capitol Police officer checked the credential with a list he discovered the man wasn’t authorized to go inside the restricted area that has been set up as a security precaution. Officers noticed the man had pro-gun bumper stickers in his car, including one that read, “Assault Life.”
When asked, Beeler said he was carrying a Glock semi-automatic pistol in the center armrest. Police found the Glock was loaded with a high-capacity magazine and 17 rounds of ammunition. The pistol was ready to fire. Beeler was carrying 509 rounds for the pistol, including hollow-point bullets, as well as 21 shotgun shells. He was charged with five crimes, including possessing a weapon and ammunition without the appropriate registration. He appeared in D.C. Superior Court Saturday afternoon and a judge ordered him released but said he is not allowed to return to D.C. unless it is to appear in court or meet with his lawyer.
The Washington Post contacted Beeler’s mother, who said she was shocked to hear the news because he had told her he was going to help secure downtown Washington for the inauguration. Beeler reportedly works in private security. “I don’t believe that,” his mother said when she was told of the charges.
Support work like this for just $1
Slate is covering the stories that matter to you. Become a Slate Plus member to support our work. Your first month is only $1.