Capitol Police arrested an 80-year-old Georgia man on Wednesday afternoon for illegally parking on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington after he attempted to deliver documents to the Supreme Court.
Tony Payne of Tunnel Hill, Georgia, was taken into custody after he admitted to having guns in his vehicle, a small white van, prompting police to search the vehicle.
Police found two handguns and a shotgun inside the car and subsequently charged Payne with Unregistered Firearm, Unregistered Ammunition, and Carrying a Pistol without a License.
Weapons are banned from Capitol Grounds, and dozens of people are arrested each year for violating the law, according to police.
“This afternoon the United States Capitol Police (USCP) Hazardous Incident Response Division cleared a suspicious vehicle, which was illegally parked on Capitol Grounds,” police said in a statement.
“Around 3:45 p.m., USCP officers noticed the van was illegally parked along the 100 block of East Capitol Street,” USCP said. “The driver told us he had guns in the van. A K-9 also ‘hit’ on the vehicle.”
Two other people were briefly detained by Capitol Police: a female and another male. They were not arrested.
Lawmakers Facing Increased Threats
“The individuals told our investigators they were here to deliver documents to the U.S. Supreme Court,” police said. “A pipe and containers were also found in the van, so the USCP Hazardous Incident Response Division did a thorough search and cleared the van.”
Officials have bolstered security measures at the Capitol Grounds in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol, increasing barricades and guarded checkpoints as lawmakers have expressed concerns over their safety.
In August, Capitol Police began looking to hire its own criminal prosecutor to oversee allegations about individuals who had allegedly threatened or been violent toward members of Congress and their staff.
“This position is to represent the United States government primarily prosecuting individuals and/or groups who have engaged in threats and/or acts of violence against Members of Congress, their staffs, United States Capitol Police employees, visitors to the Capitol complex, and facilities and properties within the Capitol Complex,” the job advertisement for a “Special Assistant United States Attorney located in USCP District Offices in Washington, D.C.” read.
The latest arrest comes as lawmakers have claimed to experience a surge in threats and confrontations, including stalking, vandalism, and armed individuals visiting their homes, The New York Times reported.
According to a June report by Axios, threats against lawmakers that were investigated by USCP increased by 144 percent between the first year former President Donald Trump took office and the first year President Joe Biden stepped into office.