WASHINGTON – A man who drew what appeared to be a gun at a screening checkpoint at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center earlier this week was charged with two federal offenses Thursday as court paperwork revealed the weapon was a BB gun.
Larry R. Dawson, 66, of Tennessee was charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees with a dangerous weapon and assaulting a federal law enforcement officer with a dangerous weapon, prosecutors said in a statement. The first charge carries a statutory maximum of 25 years in prison, and the latter a statutory maximum of 30 years, they said.
Dawson was shot by police during the incident Monday and was hospitalized. He has not yet appeared in court.
U.S. Capitol was on lockdown for about an hour Monday after the incident. A female bystander also sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Court paperwork filed Thursday says Dawson arrived at the visitor's center at about 2:30 p.m. Monday and went through a metal detector, which indicated the presence of metal at his waist. He spread his arms in response to an officer's request, the court paperwork says, but then suddenly reached into the area of his waist and removed "what appeared to be a black handgun." Dawson took a hand-held metal detector from the officer who had asked him to spread his arms and threw it onto the floor. He then pointed the weapon at the officer, who drew his own weapon. Dawson ignored officers' commands to drop the weapon and was shot twice, according to court paperwork provided by prosecutors.
"The gun resembled in color, shape, weight, and other outward appearances a semi-automatic handgun," the document said.
Dawson was known previously to police, who last October arrested him for disrupting House proceedings and yelling he was a "Prophet of God." He was issued a "stay away order" that required him to avoid the Capitol grounds.
After Dawson's arrest in October, he did not appear in court as scheduled the following month. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest, and Dawson wrote the court a letter in which he claimed to be exempt from laws because he is a prophet of God.
"No longer will I let myself be governed by flesh and blood, but only by the Divine Love of God," he wrote, adding four exclamation points.
Other court paperwork said Dawson was previously in the Army and was honorably discharged in 1971.
It was not clear if Dawson was represented by a lawyer in the current case. The lawyer who represented him in the case from October, John Copacino, did not immediately return a telephone call to his office Thursday evening requesting comment.