Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 1, 2014

Posts in "Capitol Police"

July 28, 2014

In D.C., Response to Judge’s Handgun Ruling Is Mixed and Muddled (Updated)

Updated 6:01 p.m. | For all practical purposes, a federal judge’s weekend ruling that overturned local laws prohibiting District of Columbia residents from carrying guns outside of their homes has opened the door for non-residents to tote handguns into the city and has made it potentially easier for members and staffers to transport firearms across the District to the Capitol.

D.C. police have been ordered not to arrest people for carrying pistols and deadly weapons in public. Washingtonians can still face criminal charges for carrying unregistered firearms and ammunition, but the millions of people who visit the nation’s capital are exempt from those provisions under an order from Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier. The chief’s guidance effectively put the District’s firearm regulations, at least for non-residents, on a par with the most permissive gun jurisdictions in the country. D.C. police got additional guidance from Lanier on Monday afternoon. She clarified that the ruling applies only to handguns, not long guns or shotguns that are still illegal, and that committing crimes with handguns remains illegal.

For non-residents, legal possession of a handgun in D.C. is based on the laws of their home jurisdiction, meaning D.C. police will be responsible for knowing and enforcing licensing and permitting restrictions from around the country. Lanier noted that additional information on gun laws in other states will be forthcoming and said that in the meantime, officers can call a 24-hour information line.

Lanier’s orders came in response to Judge Frederick Scullin Jr.’s July 26 ruling in Palmer v. District of Columbia that D.C.’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional. In the 19-page decision, Scullin wrote that he was stopping enforcement of the law “unless and until” the city adopted a constitutionally valid licensing mechanism.

In her follow-up guidance to officers, Lanier nodded to the confusion. “Unfortunately, this ruling has left many unanswered legal questions that are currently being reviewed by the [Office of the Attorney General],” she stated.

Federal laws and a portion of D.C. code still prohibit people from carrying weapons on Capitol grounds, according to Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider. But members and staffers already have weapons privileges for the Capitol campus dating back decades.  Full story

Charges in Campus Handgun Cases Could Change in Wake of D.C. Handgun Ruling

Charges against two men whom Capitol Police allegedly stopped from bringing 9 mm handguns to Capitol Hill could change, as attorneys scramble to interpret the effect of a federal judge overturning the District’s handgun ban.

On July 26, Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. ruled in Palmer v. District of Columbia that D.C.’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional. In the 19-page decision, Scullin wrote that he was stopping enforcement of the law “unless and until” the city adopted a constitutionally valid licensing mechanism.

D.C. police were subsequently instructed not to enforce the law against carrying pistols in public. In two separate incidents that are raising questions about campus security, Hill staffer Ryan Shucard and pork executive Ronald William Prestage were charged with violating that law when police uncovered handguns and magazines during administrative searches at the Cannon House Office building. Full story

July 25, 2014

Members of Congress Acknowledge Major Security Gap at House Garages

photo 4 247x330 Members of Congress Acknowledge Major Security Gap at House Garages

(Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Over the course of four workdays, Capitol Police spotted two 9 mm handguns during the security searches that are standard protocol for visitors and staffers entering congressional office buildings. Meanwhile, the Capitol community paid tribute to two Capitol Police officers killed in a gun battle in the Capitol 16 years earlier.

Nothing indicates the two men arrested for entering the Cannon House Office Building were intent on doing harm, but the timing of the grim anniversary of the deaths of Detective John Gibson and Officer Jacob J. Chestnut on July 24, 1998, framed some of the concerns of members and staffers with a massive security loophole in the House garages.

On July 18 and 23, the security protocol at the Cannon doors worked. But, if someone with access to the House parking garages carried a gun, as staffer Ryan Shucard allegedly did, members believe he or she could enter office buildings without a bag check or metal detector screening. Full story

July 24, 2014

Pork Executive Was Carrying ‘Fully Functional’ Pistol, Police Say

photo 4 247x330 Pork Executive Was Carrying Fully Functional Pistol, Police Say

(Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

The South Carolina man arrested Wednesday after carrying a firearm into the Cannon House Office building had a loaded Ruger LC9 semi-automatic pistol and a magazine with six rounds of ammunition, court documents state.

At the time of the arrest, the weapon appeared to be “fully functional” and “capable of being fired by a single hand,” according to hand-written comments on the charges.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Karen Howze ordered Ronald William Prestage, of Camden, S.C., the president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, released from custody pending a preliminary hearing on Aug. 13. The 59-year-old pork executive is charged with a single count of possessing a gun outside a home or office, a felony that carries up to five years in prison.

Prestage was arrested at about 9:40 a.m. Wednesday, after Capitol Police found the concealed weapon as he went through security screening. The court documents, providing a detailed account of the arrest, say Prestage put a briefcase on the X-ray belt at the Rotunda door of the building. An officer spotted the handgun, inspected the bag and found a black Uncle Mike’s ankle holster containing the weapon, according to the documents filed in D.C. Superior Court.

Police said Prestage stated he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon in South Carolina. He does not have a permit to carry in D.C.

Inside the handgun was a magazine, containing six rounds of 9 mm ammunition. Further inspection by the crime scene lab uncovered one round in the chamber. Additional handwritten notes on the court document state that the gun had a barrel length of less than 12 inches.

Prestage has hired attorney Robert J. Spagnoletti, a former attorney general for the District of Columbia, who did not immediately respond to questions from CQ Roll Call.

July 23, 2014

Capitol Police Stop Another Gun From Entering Cannon Building (Updated)

photo 4 247x330 Capitol Police Stop Another Gun From Entering Cannon Building (Updated)

(Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 12:25 p.m. | Capitol Police confiscated a 9mm Ruger handgun from the bag of Camden, S.C., resident Ronald William Prestage shortly after 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning at the Cannon House Office Building. Prestage, 59, was arrested and charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a District of Columbia offense that carries up to five years in prison.

Records indicate he has a concealed carry permit in South Carolina. Prestage is a veterinarian and farm operator, and is president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council. He may have been on the Hill to lobby on agriculture issues.

Two officers escorted Prestage from the building in handcuffs around 9:35 a.m., and loaded him into a waiting police van. He did not respond to questions from CQ Roll Call.

Prestage was taken to Capitol Police headquarters for processing, according to department spokesman Shennell Antrobus.

The northeast Cannon door reopened around 9:50 a.m.

Related:

Shucard Pleads Not Guilty to Carrying Pistol to Capitol Hill

Handgun Incident Casts Campus Security in New Light

Marino Staffer Arrested for Bringing Gun to Cannon

Webb Aide Could Get 5 Years

Gun-Related Arrest Is Nothing New for Capitol Police

Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

D.C. Could Become Nation’s Most Permissive Gun Jurisdiction, Under House Proposal (Video)

July 22, 2014

Capitol Police Complete Investigation of Suspicious Substance in Capitol Visitor Center (Updated)

cvc072214 440x284 Capitol Police Complete Investigation of Suspicious Substance in Capitol Visitor Center (Updated)

Capitol Police investigating a suspicious substance Tuesday carry their equipment back to the hazmat truck after declaring the area clear. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:38 a.m. | Capitol Police sealed entrances to the Capitol Visitor Center shortly after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, in response to a suspicious substance.

Trapped groups of tourists and tour guides milled about in the main level, waiting for an all-clear so that they could enter the Capitol as police investigated in Emancipation Hall.

Escalators to and from the Capitol and outside entrances were ordered closed, as police implemented a shelter in place.

Capitol Police spokesman Shennell Antrobus confirmed the investigation to CQ Roll Call.

At about 9:50 a.m. Capitol Police radios began buzzing with the news that the suspicious substance tested negative and normal operations would soon resume, once the HAZMAT team cleared the scene.

A group of about 30 tourists who had been led out of the CVC theatre during the 45-minute investigation geared up for their tour of the Capitol. An officer joked with them that the well-rested CVC tour guides, also waiting for an all-clear signal, would show them a great time once operations resumed.

Shortly before 10 a.m., word spread that the doors and escalators were re-opening. A handful of Capitol employees who had been waiting in the Crypt boarded the escalator down to the CVC. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 9:39 a.m.
Capitol Police, CVC

July 21, 2014

Ryan Shucard Case Highlights Gun Law Discrepancies

Staff in Rep. Tom Marino’s office are convinced that Ryan Shucard, the press secretary that arrived at the Cannon House Office building toting a 9 mm handgun on Friday morning, was not planning to harm anyone with the gun.

“No, not at all,” said Bill Tighe, chief of staff for the two-term Pennsylvania Republican, said when asked if staff thought Shucard had ill intentions. Capitol Police also indicated it was an accident, according to Tighe.

Tighe said he was not formally aware that Shucard, a resident of Alexandria, Va., owned a gun. Shucard was hired by Marino’s office in late May. Tighe said he did not know whether Shucard, 26, was registered, trained or permitted to hold a gun in Virginia, where gun laws are less strict than in the District. Full story

July 19, 2014

Ryan Shucard Pleads Not Guilty to Carrying Pistol to Capitol Hill

Ryan Shucard, the Capitol Hill aide who allegedly tried to bring a 9 mm handgun and magazine to work Friday, was released from police custody on Saturday afternoon after pleading not guilty to a felony charge for carrying a pistol.

Shucard exercised his Fifth Amendment right during his minute-long arraignment, standing silently beside his lawyer in khaki pants and a long-sleeved, collared shirt with shackles around his ankles and wrists. With no objection from the government lawyers working on the case, D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher released Shucard with instructions to return to court on Aug. 7.

When the Colorado native entered the courtroom around 1:30 p.m., a blond woman began dabbing her eyes with a tissue. She was sitting next to a girl and man who later identified themselves as members of Shucard’s family. The trio followed Shucard out of the courtroom. Shucard, his family and his lawyer, Jason Kalafat, declined to comment to CQ Roll Call.

Shucard has been placed on unpaid leave from the office of Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., where he had been serving as press secretary since May 2014. The University of Northern Colorado and George Washington University alumnus got his start on the Hill in October 2011 as a staff assistant for then-Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn.

What might have provoked the incident, which resulted in Capitol Police arrested Shucard around 9:15 a.m. on Friday morning, remains unclear, but the confiscated handgun has been raising new questions about campus security.

Related:

Handgun Incident Casts Campus Security in New Light

Marino Staffer Arrested for Bringing Gun to Cannon

Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

D.C. Could Become Nation’s Most Permissive Gun Jurisdiction, Under House Proposal (Video)

Correction:

An earlier version of this post misstated the date Schucard was instructed to return to court.

July 18, 2014

Ryan Shucard Handgun Incident Casts Campus Security in New Light (Updated)

Updated 6:11 p.m. | Metal detectors and X-ray machines at the southeast door of the Cannon House Office Building  stopped Capitol Hill press secretary Ryan Shucard from allegedly carrying a 9 mm handgun and magazine to work on Friday.

Shucard, a staffer in the office of Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., was arrested by Capitol Police and charged with carrying a pistol without a license. Shucard could face up to five years in prison if convicted of the felony, according to Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which will review the case.

Opponents of congressional efforts to wipe out the District’s gun laws seized on the arrest as an example of hypocrisy, while members of the Capitol Hill community pondered what could have happened if Shucard entered Cannon via the building’s garage. Full story

Marino Staffer Arrested for Bringing Gun to Cannon

1656223 10100687137832492 2648196034408123230 n 189x330 Marino Staffer Arrested for Bringing Gun to Cannon

Shucard was arrested Friday. (Via Facebook)

Capitol Police arrested a staffer for Rep. Tom Marino Friday morning on charges of carrying a 9mm handgun and magazine into the Cannon House Office building.

Ryan Shucard, the Pennsylvania Republican’s press secretary, was arrested around 9:15 a.m., according to Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider.

Shucard entered the southeast door of Cannon with the weapon. The Smith & Wesson 9mm and magazine were found during the search required for entry into the building, according to Schneider. People entering Cannon, including those with staff identification badges, like Shucard, are required to step through metal detectors and place bags on the belt of an X-Ray machine.

Shucard is charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a felony. He is currently being processed at Capitol Police headquarters.

Schucard was immediately placed on unpaid leave from Marino’s office, chief of staff Bill Tighe told CQ Roll Call in a phone call. “That will last until we know more about the situation,” Tighe said.

Full story

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