An Arizona man blamed for a suspicious vehicle scare near the Air and Space Museum appeared in court Thursday, charged for having unregistered weapons in his truck and trailer.
U.S. Park Police say propane tanks wired to car batteries on a trailer parked on the National Mall led to an hourslong closure of traffic through the area Wednesday.
Charging documents released Thursday state that an officer called in the bomb squad to the National Mall at about 3:15 p.m. after he spotted the tanks, batteries and a generator with wires attached to it in the bed of the truck towing the trailer parked near the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
No explosives were found, but a handgun and two rifles were recovered, Sgt. David Schlosser said. They also found identification with different names, a laptop and cameras.
Authorities said the arrest of 66-year-old James Patock, of Marana, Ariz., is not related to five linked shootings targeting military locations.
Patock was charged with carrying a pistol without a license, possession of an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition.
Museum visitors were evacuated as an area of the mall bordered by Fourth Street to the east, Seventh Street to the west, Madison Drive NW to the north and Jefferson Drive SW to the south was cordoned off.
Arizona TV station KGUN9 talked with Patock's former neighbor, Jim McFarland, who told them Patock owned several guns and displayed aggressive behavior when he knew him a few years ago.
KGUN9 News reporter Jessica Chapin asked, "How would you describe his character?"
"Weird," McFarland responded, "He hated the president. He hated everything. He said if he got a chance he would shoot the president."
McFarland said that conversation happened several years ago, when George W. Bush was in office. But McFarland said he wasn't surprised that Patock turned up in Washington.
KGUN9 reported that Patock has not lived at his listed address for at least five years because he was evicted. According to the police report, Patock told officers he lived in his truck and had been in the D.C area for two weeks.
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