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Posts in "DC Crime"
August 13, 2014
For the second time in less than a week, federal prosecutors and defense lawyers have agreed to delay a case involving a man carrying a gun to Capitol Hill.
Ronald Prestage — the South Carolina pork executive arrested by Capitol Police when they found a loaded semi-automatic pistol and magazine in his briefcase — was expected to appear in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday. But the 11 a.m. hearing was not held.
Court documents state the government and defense are continuing negotiations, suggesting a plea deal might be possible. A federal ruling on D.C.’s gun policy may impact charges in the case.
On July 23, Capitol Police spotted a handgun in Prestage’s briefcase during an administrative search at the Rotunda door of the Cannon House Office Building. Police say the weapon, concealed in a black ankle holster, appeared to be “fully functional” and “capable of being fired by a single hand.” According to charging documents, Prestage told police at the time of the arrest that he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon in South Carolina. He does not have a permit to carry in D.C.
Prestage, president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, has been charged with a single count of possessing a gun outside a home or office, a felony that carries up to five years in prison.
July 29, 2014
Updated 7:02 p.m. | A federal judge on Tuesday put a hold on the ruling that overturned the District’s ban on carrying handguns in public, effectively giving D.C. police and law enforcement some space to figure out how to respond.
The July 26 ruling by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. declaring the gun law unconstitutional threw Metropolitan Police Department and legal officials into rapid, confusing response. D.C. police were ordered on Sunday not to arrest people for carrying registered pistols and deadly weapons in public — a directive that effectively put them in the position of recognizing all other jurisdiction’s handgun permits.
MPD Chief Cathy L. Lanier and District officials requested the stay on Monday evening, saying it would allow them to pursue an appeal and enact a “licensing mechanism” consistent with the ruling and the Second Amendment. Full story
July 21, 2014
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 18, 2014
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
July 17, 2014
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., is optimistic about Senate support for an appropriations rider that would dismantle local gun laws in the District of Columbia, but he doubts the chamber will consider the measure.
“Twenty rank-and-file Democrats in the House voted for the amendment, and I know Democrats in the Senate would vote for the amendment,” Massie said in an email to CQ Roll Call. “But I suspect that Harry Reid will do everything he can to prevent that vote from happening.”
The Senate majority leader’s office did not respond to questions about Massie’s pro-gun proposal, which would make D.C. perhaps the most permissive jurisdiction in the nation. Neither did some of the vulnerable red-state Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee who are up for re-election in November — Alaska’s Mark Begich and Louisiana’s Mary L. Landrieu — who have also advocated greater autonomy for the District. Full story
One of Congress’ most outspoken libertarians is the latest member to try to overturn the District of Columbia’s local gun laws. If successful, his proposal would make the District, home to cabinet officials, dignitaries from around the world and the president perhaps the most permissive gun jurisdiction in the country.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who in June rallied a bipartisan majority around an amendment to end warrantless collection of Americans’ online activities, attached language prohibiting D.C. from enforcing local firearm restrictions to the House bill funding the District.
“Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller that struck down the D.C. handgun ban, as well as the unconstitutional gunlock provision, it is still difficult for D.C. residents to exercise their God-given right to bear arms,” Massie said Wednesday on the floor. “Congress has the authority to legislate in this area pursuant to article I, section 8, clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to ‘exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever’ over the District of Columbia.”
In a move decried as an assault on Home Rule, Massie tried to wield that authority Tuesday night with a similar amendment, but the measure was ruled out of order due to a procedural flaw. To the outrage of Mayor Vincent Gray and the D.C. Council, he tried again on Wednesday and the House adopted the gun rider 241-181, with the support of 20 Democrats. Full story
June 2, 2014
In response to a series of violent robberies around the Capitol Hill neighborhood, D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells wants to increase lighting in the area.
Brightening the dark areas around the Hill is tricky, however, because a large part of the neighborhood falls within a historic district. Wells says that designation makes “acquisition and installation of new equipment a complicated and lengthy process.”
To help increase lighting, he wants to trim back the trees and foliage that tend to create dark areas on the leafy, green streets around Capitol Hill. Wells will be working with the Urban Forestry unit of the D.C. Department of Transportation, the agency responsible for street lighting under the Home Rule Act, to ensure trees are not blocking lamp posts and to identify areas that could benefit from additional lighting. Full story
May 28, 2014
Capitol Hill has seen an uptick in violence and robberies over the past two weeks.
A man who targets women walking alone at night and robs them after pressing a sharp object to their throats may be behind two recent attacks in Eastern Market, according to D.C. police. A similar robbery also occurred near the NoMa Metro station last week.
Two of the women were cut or stabbed.
In response to the attacks, Tommy Wells, who represents Ward 6 on the D.C. Council, will join members of the Metropolitan Police Department on Wednesday night at the Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.
During the 6:30 p.m. public meeting, police will provide an update on the incidents and answer questions.
Police have released video of a person of interest in the May 15 attack near 9th and C streets Southeast.
They have also released video of a man they believe was involved in the May 21 attack on the 200 block of 8th Street SE.
The department has increased foot, car and bike patrols in the area in response to the incident.
April 24, 2014
Unless Congress steps in, possession of pot in the nation’s capital will become a civil offense this summer, with penalties similar to a parking ticket.
Exact timing depends on when each chamber chooses to adjourn for breaks, but the marijuana decriminalization bill’s layover on Capitol Hill will likely end in mid- to late-July. After that, getting busted with one ounce or less of the drug would result in a fine of $25. The criminal offense currently carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
So if Capitol Hill wants to harsh Washington’s mellow, lawmakers have about three months to act. Full story
April 9, 2014
The long, so-far fruitless search for Relisha Rudd, a missing 8-year-old girl who had been living at D.C. General shelter for nearly two years, has drawn new scrutiny of the long-shuttered hospital that serves as a homeless shelter.
Mayor Vincent Gray announced Tuesday he was calling on his administration to develop a plan to shutter the rodent-plagued facility on the eastern fringe of the Capitol Hill neighborhood that housed nearly 1,000 homeless women and children on frigid nights this winter. Full story