U.S. Capitol Police said that its officers arrested a man carrying a rifle a few blocks from Congress on Tuesday and that an investigation into his intentions is underway.
Ahmir Lavon Merrell, 21, of Atlanta, is being charged on multiple counts, including for being a felon in possession of a firearm and carrying unregistered ammunition and an unregistered gun.
A witness spotted Merrell carrying the rifle in the park across from Union Station, which is about a 10-minute walk from Congress, according to police.
“‘See something, say something’ is not just an empty slogan. We are grateful for the individual who alerted our officer to the man with a gun in the park,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement. “These cops immediately ran toward the man with the loaded gun. As always ― I am proud of our cops.”
According to a news release from the law enforcement agency, an officer spotted Merrell with the gun and demanded that he drop it. When he refused, an officer tased him so that they could grab the firearm and arrest him.
Police found that Merrell had a warrant out for a probation violation in Georgia. Officers are still looking into what he was doing with the gun near Capitol Hill.
“While the investigation continues, it is not yet clear what Merrell was doing in Washington, D.C.,” the release stated.
Earlier in the day, about 1 p.m., Capitol Police alerted people on X, formerly known as Twitter, of the arrest.
“At this time we have no reason to believe there is an ongoing threat,” the police force posted.
Capitol Police later shared a photo of what they described as Merrell’s rifle, which appeared to be damaged or customized. Earlier media reports, citing officers, identified it as an AR-15-style rifle ― the weapon of choice for mass shooters.
“A guy showed up near the Capitol with a semi automatic military assault rifle today and it’s just like ‘ho hum that’s just America!’” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) wrote on X.
About two hours after first reporting the incident, Capitol Police said the scene had been cleared and all road closures had ended.