Virginia Man Arrested at DC Checkpoint With Unregistered Firearm, Says It Was ‘Honest Mistake’

January 16, 2021 Updated: January 16, 2021

The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) on Saturday announced that it had arrested a man at an inaugural security checkpoint the day before, who had presented a non-government issued credential.

Authorities said the man, Wesley Allen Beeler, 31, of Virginia, was arrested at around 6:30 p.m. Friday, when he was carrying a handgun in plain sight in his vehicle. A search of his car revealed numerous rounds of ammunition. Media outlets, citing a police report, said more than 500 rounds of ammunition were found in his vehicle.

Beeler was subsequently transported to USCP Headquarters and charged with Carrying a Pistol without a License; Possession of Unregistered Firearm, and Possession of Unregistered Ammunition.

The 31-year-old was released from police custody on Saturday. He told The Washington Post that he was lost and didn’t mean to bring the gun and ammunition to Washington. He said he was working as hired security to guard media equipment in downtown Washington in the lead up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

“It was an honest mistake,” Beeler told the newspaper. “I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in D.C. because I’m a country boy.”

“I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me,” he added.

Beeler also denied having more than 500 rounds of ammunition in his vehicle.

The arrest comes as security measures are ramped up ahead of Jan. 20. Federal authorities have said they are tracking an “extensive” amount of “concerning online chatter” about potential threats to the inauguration, including armed protests, potential threats linked to the Capitol breach, and other types of potential threats.

Videos by reporters, workers, and residents in the area show street closures, workers putting up miles of barricades and fencing, shops and offices being boarded up, and an increased military presence. Military vehicles are seen parked on downtown streets, and armed guards are checking identification for people leaving and entering the city.

Many streets are being closed for several days, beginning Saturday, Jan. 16, and some bridges and interstate highways into Washington are scheduled to shut down at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Meanwhile, around 25,000 National Guard members from all 50 states, three territories, and Washington will be stationed in the city next week, the U.S. Army confirmed, which is an increase of 5,000 from numbers earlier this week. The number of guardsmen sent to Washington exceeds the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which has been reduced to 2,500, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The heightened security for inauguration day was triggered by the civil unrest and violence observed on Jan. 6. Left-wing activists and some protesters waving American and Trump flags illegally stormed the Capitol building. The mayhem left five people dead and dozens of police officers injured.

The Justice Department said on Thursday that federal authorities have made charges in about 80 cases and arrested 34 individuals in connection to the acts of violence  and lawlessness at the Capitol.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau is readily investigating and making arrests over the events from the Capitol breach and has embarked on countless other investigations to prevent “those individuals from any efforts to repeat that kind of activity and serve as a very stern warning to anybody else who might be inclined to engage in that activity.”

He added that the American people should be confident that his agents are involved in much behind-the-scenes work to “feed relevant information” to law enforcement partners so that can track targets as appropriate.

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