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71-Year-Old Man Arrested Yards From Capitol With Gun and Ammo

The Daily Beast logo The Daily Beast 1/28/2021 Pilar Melendez, Sam Brodey
a statue in front of a building: NICHOLAS KAMM © Provided by The Daily Beast NICHOLAS KAMM

A 71-year-old West Virginia man has been arrested after authorities found him parked near the U.S. Capitol with a gun and 20 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.

Dennis Westover, of South Charleston, West Virginia, was arrested on several charges, including possession of unregistered ammunition and unlawful possession of a firearm, at 1:58 p.m. on Wednesday by U.S. Capitol Police, according to a public incident report obtained by The Daily Beast.

Westover was stopped by police “in the middle of an intersection” just a few hundred feet from where lawmakers and staffers can enter the sprawling Rayburn House Office building, police said.

Inside his car, police found a 9mm black Sig Sauer and 20 rounds of 9mm ammunition, the report states. The incident comes just weeks after thousands of MAGA supporters stormed the Capitol building to disrupt President Biden’s election certification. Five people died during the insurrection, including a Capitol Police officer.

The U.S. House was not in session on Thursday, with lawmakers at home in their districts and staff largely working from home. Since Jan. 6, security at the Capitol complex has been ratcheted up to unprecedented levels: A barbed-wire perimeter encircles the Capitol itself and its adjacent office buildings, and thousands of U.S. Capitol Police, D.C. Metropolitan Police, military police, and National Guardsmen are patrolling the area.

The arrest of Westover grimly underscored the ongoing threat of potential violence, illustrating how close to the Capitol complex an armed person can get, even with the beefed-up security.

Capitol Hill was already on edge and concerns over safety are high ahead of the House’s return next week.

On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin warning “some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition… could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.”

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