By Ian Simpson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Pennsylvania man was arrested at President Donald Trump’s Washington hotel early on Wednesday after police acting on a tip found a rifle, pistol and ammunition in his car, a discovery they said “averted a potential disaster” in the U.S. capital.
Bryan Moles, 43, from the western Pennsylvania college town of Edinboro, was taken into custody shortly after checking into the Trump International Hotel a few blocks from the White House, Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham told a news conference.
A tipster had told the Pennsylvania State Police that Moles was traveling to Washington with weapons, and the information was passed on to the Secret Service and Washington police, Newsham said.
Moles was arrested without incident, after an assault-style rifle, a .40-caliber pistol and 90 rounds of ammunition for the two guns were found in his vehicle, the chief said.
“I believe that the officers and our federal partners, and in particular the tipster coming forward, averted a potential disaster here in our nation’s capital,” Newsham said.
Asked about reports that Moles had made threatening remarks and was a U.S. military veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Newsham said the suspect’s motives were under investigation and there was not enough information to charge Moles with making threats. He also declined to “read anything into” the fact that Moles had checked into the Trump hotel.
The chief said Moles was being held on charges of carrying a handgun without a license, possession of unregistered ammunition and carrying a dangerous weapon – the latter charge stemming from the rifle found in his vehicle.
The Secret Service said in a statement it also was investigating the incident but said that no one under its protection was ever at risk.
Police spokeswoman Karimah Bilal had no information about an attorney for Moles.
Trump’s hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, housed in a landmark former U.S. Post Office pavilion, has become a focal point for protests against the Republican president since he took office in January.
Edinboro Police Chief Jeff Craft said by telephone that Moles had no criminal record in his hometown, a suburb of Erie, Pennsylvania in the northwestern corner of the state, and was not known to police.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by James Dalgleish and Lisa Shumaker)