Capitol Police responded to a frightening call recently, when a man claimed he had gunpowder and explosives in his truck, which he had parked outside the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill. In a Facebook video, the suspect, a Grover, North Carolina man, said that he had a seven-pound keg of gunpowder and 2.5 pounds of an explosive called Tannerite in his truck. He also suggested there were other bombs around D.C.
When a police officer responded to a call about the truck, the man apparently openly told the officer that he had a bomb and he appeared to be holding a detonator in his hand.
The Capitol Police immediately evacuated nearby buildings and a swarm of federal and Washington, D.C., officers, including Capitol Police, the ATF and the FBI, descended on the area. According to CNBC, sharpshooters took up positions in the area and police negotiators began trying to reason with the man.
In Facebook videos the man recorded in the hours leading up to the threat, he called for the resignation of President Joe Biden, along with air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan. He also discussed the fact that his wife has cancer, and that health insurance would not fully cover her treatment. Facebook pulled down the videos when reporters discovered them.
One passerby said the suspect was tossing $1 bills out of his truck. She took a photo of the strange scene and posted it on Twitter.
In addition to that strange behavior, the suspect refused to use the telephone delivered to him via police robot. Instead, he communicated with the authorities on a dry-erase board.
According to the chief of the Capitol Police, the man does have a criminal record in North Carolina. However, he characterized it as nothing “serious.” The chief also became aware that the suspect had recently lost his mother and was dealing with “other issues.”
Ultimately, the North Carolina man surrendered peacefully and was taken into custody without incident. This was the case despite the apparent magnitude of the threat, which occurred in the same area that Trump supporters violently invaded just seven months earlier.
Kid-gloved police response largely unexplained
In an era where police officers sometimes kill people simply for refusing a command, it’s striking that this incident ended so peacefully. The suspect simply gave up and did not resist, according to the chief of the Capitol Police, but he also seems to have been given a great deal of consideration.
Officers took the time to get to know his personal situation and the issues causing him stress, and even considered whether his prior criminal record were “serious.” Even when he refused to use the telephone they gave him, the police continued to see him as a person instead of a deadly threat.
It won’t come as a surprise that the suspect is white.
There was apparently no bomb in the truck, although “bomb-making materials” were recovered. Nevertheless, officers did not seem concerned that there could actually be other bombs in the area.
The suspect has been charged with threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempted use of an explosive device – a charge which carries a possible life sentence – along with attempted use of an explosive device. He is being held without bail pending a medical screening.