The Michigan man was detained on Friday morning outside the legislature. Just before 5am, a patrol officer started speaking to the man “who had parked his 2017 Dodge Charger near Peace Circle, on the West side of the Capitol”, United States Capitol Police (USCP) said in a statement.
USCP identified the man as Jerome Felipe, 53, from Flint, Michigan. The retired New York police officer showed USCP officials a badge that said “Department of the INTERPOL”, saying that he was a criminal investigator.
He gave police permission to search his car, where they found “a BB gun, two ballistic vests, several high capacity magazines, and other ammunition”, according to USCP. The agency said no real guns were found.
Investigators are still looking into why Mr Felipe had parked close to the Capitol building. The 53-year-old is facing charges for unlawful possession of high capacity magazines and unregistered ammunition.
Capitol Police have previously said that the number of threats against lawmakers is increasing.
US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger suggested at a congressional hearing in January that a new agency be established to investigate and handle the rising threats made against legislators. He said at the hearing that last year, there were more than 9,000 threats made against lawmakers.
Chief Manger spoke on 5 January, the eve of the anniversary of the 6 January Capitol riot when a mob of Trump supporters laid siege to the building in an effort to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
“One of the ways that I believe that we need to expand our protection capabilities is to ... take our intelligence responsibilities and make those investigatory and intelligence responsibilities, and create a new bureau — have a new assistant chief,” Chief Manger told the Senate Rules Committee at the start of the year.
“Our dignitary protection and protection responsibilities have grown ... the workload has increased,” he added.