Pentagon police arrested contractor with gun weeks after fatal shooting
ARLINGTON, Va. — Pentagon police arrested a defense contractor trying to bring a gun into the building during a random security check last month, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Andy O. Smith, 52, was charged with a Class B misdemeanor, said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Peter Carr. His arrest on March 24 came less than three weeks after John Patrick Bedell opened fire outside the Pentagon, wounding two police officers before being shot and killed.
Bedell, 36, was reportedly a Sept. 11 conspiracy theorist with a history of mental illness, who drove to the Pentagon from California armed with two 9mm pistols in an apparent attempt to shoot people inside the building.
Smith, of Oakton, Va., has a permit to carry a concealed firearm, according to Fairfax County records. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has not yet released Smith’s arrest report, Carr said in an e-mail.
Loaded and unloaded weapons — including pistols, crossbows, spear guns and slingshots — are banned from Pentagon property.
Reached by telephone, Smith called the incident a “misunderstanding” and said Pentagon police were “professional and courteous at all times.”
He declined to comment further, citing his scheduled June 4 court appearance. He faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
While each visitor to the Pentagon must pass through metal detectors at a security checkpoint, until last month’s shooting it was rare for the building’s 23,000 employees to face the same scrutiny.
Smith was arrested after he was selected for a random security check, Carr said. He is the only person to have been arrested there since the Bedell shooting.
When asked if the incident with Smith might prompt tighter security measures for everyone trying to enter the Pentagon, Terry Sutherland, a spokesman for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, said options are limited because of the sheer number of workers.
“With a workforce of 23,000 plus daily visitors we have a delicate balance of providing a level of security that is appropriate but not so onerous that it is disruptive unto itself,” he said.
Both before and since the shooting, Pentagon police have found people carrying knives and other weapons, Sutherland said.