Coast Guard officer accused of planning mass killing expected to plead guilty
By TOM JACKMAN | The Washington Post | Published: October 2, 2019
A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant who authorities say planned to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country” is expected to appear in federal court Thursday to plead guilty in his case involving guns and drugs, federal records show.
Christopher P. Hasson, 50, was arrested in February at his home in Silver Spring, Md., where authorities found 15 guns, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition along with silencers, smoke grenades, and other tactical items that could be used in an attack, as well as 30 bottles of human growth hormone and 100 pills of the opioid Tramadol.
The docket for Hasson’s case had a new entry Wednesday: the scheduling of a rearraignment hearing on Thursday at noon before U.S. District Judge George Hazel. Hasson already has been arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the four counts pending against him. No new counts have been filed since then, which would be one reason for a rearraignment.
“In general, rearraignment indicates a change of plea,” said Marcia Murphy, the spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney in Maryland. She declined to comment further on whether Hasson would plead guilty Thursday. No plea is final until it is entered in court and approved by a judge.
Liz Oyer, one of the federal public defenders representing Hasson, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Investigators said they found extensive evidence that Hasson had studied and admired the writings of terrorist Anders Breivik, who shot and killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, who believed that targeted violence was necessary to stop problems caused by immigration. Breivik also advocated for six weeks of steroid use before an attack, prosecutors said.
Breivik called for targeting political and media leaders, and investigators with the FBI and the Coast Guard Investigative Service found a spreadsheet on Hasson’s computer that listed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., and television personalities such as Joe Scarborough, Don Lemon and Chris Hayes. The investigators found that Hasson had searched for Scarborough’s home address and in January had Googled “best place in dc to see congress people” and “civil war if trump impeached.”
Hasson, who worked in the Coast Guard headquarters in Washington as an acquisitions officer, also apparently wrote a letter to a known American neo-Nazi, according to a prosecution detention motion, which said: “I am a longtime White Nationalist. … I fully support the idea of a White Homeland. … you can make change with a little focused violence.”
Hasson was not charged with any terrorist-related counts. Instead, he was indicted on two counts of unlawful possession of silencers, and two counts of possession of a controlled substance. Motions to dismiss those counts, filed by the federal public defender in Maryland, were denied last month by Hazel, and trial was set for later this month.