U.S. Capitol Police arrested a Virginia man as he tried to get through a police checkpoint in Washington D.C. Friday, according to a police report and a law enforcement source for CNN. The man, identified as Wesley Allen Beeler, allegedly had fake inaugural credentials, a loaded handgun, and over 500 rounds of ammunition with him. Beeler stopped at a police vehicle checkpoint at North Capitol And E Street NE, north of the U.S. Capitol just after 6:30 p.m., the source told CNN. The arrest comes just four days before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.
Beeler gave officers an inauguration credential, which was discovered to be fake. Police asked the man from Front Royal, Virginia if he had any weapons with him. Beeler told officers he was carrying a Glock semi-automatic pistol in his truck's center armrest, CNN's source said. The weapon had 17 rounds of ammunition and one round in the chamber, ready to fire. Police recovered the weapon and another 509 rounds of ammunition in Beeler's vehicle, according to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department incident report. Beeler was arrested on several offenses, including possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of unregistered ammunition.
Just in: Wesley Allen Beeler of Front Royal, VA faces charges in DC after being stopped at an inauguration security checkpoint with fake credentials, a handgun and over 500 rounds of ammo. Story soon @fox5dc pic.twitter.com/VtQ6v5f78T— FOX 5 DC (@fox5dc) January 16, 2021
Security in Washington, D.C. has reached unprecedented levels in the days leading up to Biden's inauguration, following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, when pro-Trump supporters stormed the building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Biden's Electoral College victory. The riot started after President Donald Trump and some of his allies spoke at a rally, where they repeated baseless claims that the election was stolen from Trump. On Jan. 13, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for inciting the violence, making Trump the first president impeached twice. An impeachment trial will take place in the Senate after Biden takes office. At least five people died from injuries sustained during the riot, including a Capitol Police officer.
National Guard members have already been deployed to the nation's capital. By next week, up to 20,000 National Guard members are expected to be in place to join other law enforcement agencies to protect the city from possible violence, reports the Washington Post. FBI Director Christopher Wray briefed local law enforcement agencies about the threats in D.C. and possible threats to other state capitals on Wednesday. FBI and Secret Service officials also briefed Biden and his national security aides, his transition team confirmed.
Biden's inauguration was already expected to be a much smaller event before the riot, due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the Post previously noted, members of Congress are usually given up to 200,000 tickets to distribute among their constituents, but the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies said members will only be given a ticket for themselves and one guest. Festivities will also be limited, with a primetime special hosted by Tom Hanks in the works in place of a traditional inaugural ball.