What to Know
- Security officers arrested Thomas Pressley, accusing him of carrying a 9-millimeter handgun in a leather handbag inside the complex.
- Pressley, a contractor who works in IT for the agency, has been ordered jailed in D.C. until his next scheduled court appearance Friday.
- Pressley’s arrest comes about a month after the arrest of Jonathan Wienke, another employee accused of carrying a firearm in the complex.
UPDATE: Thomas Pressley waived Friday's hearing and pleaded not guilty.
For the second time in a month, an employee has been arrested for taking a handgun on to the secured grounds of U.S. Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Washington, D.C.
According to police and court records obtained by the News4 I-Team, security officers arrested Thomas Pressley of Woodbridge, Virginia, Monday, accusing him of carrying a 9-millimeter handgun in a leather handbag while inside the complex.
Pressley, a contractor who works in IT for the agency, has been ordered jailed in D.C. until his next scheduled court appearance Friday. He is charged with carrying a pistol without a license. Court filings did not detail what, if any, plea has been entered in the case by Pressley. His attorney did not immediately return requests for comment from the I-Team.
Federal government records specify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security headquarters complex on Nebraska Avenue in northwest Washington is among the most secured government facilities in the United States, rivaling the security apparatus of the White House and the Pentagon.
“The weapon appeared to be fully functional, capable of being fired by a single hand, and designed to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive,” according to a police report.
The report also said, “The weapon also had a barrel length of less than 12 inches.”
Agency security located the handgun during a random employee screening, the report said.
“As a result of enhanced security and screening measures at the NAC, security officers detained a contract employee yesterday after they discovered a concealed firearm during screening," a DHS spokesman said. "The contract employee was subsequently arrested.
"While we currently have no information to suggest that this individual sought to cause harm, as discussed at a recent employee town hall, the safety of employees and visitors to DHS facilities is a top priority. The enhanced security procedures discussed at that meeting remain in effect, including increased levels of screening of employees entering the NAC. And because we won’t hesitate to take every appropriate measure to protect our employees, our security professionals are evaluating what additional security enhancements may be necessary.”
Pressley’s arrest comes about a month after the arrest of Jonathan Wienke, another Homeland Security employee accused of carrying a firearm inside agency headquarters. Court filings from investigators said Wienke was found with a loaded .22-caliber handgun, carrying five hollow point bullets in June.
Wienke pleaded not guilty to a gun charge and is awaiting further court proceedings in the case.
But Wienke had more than a gun when he was searched on June 9, according to a request for court permission to raid Wienke’s home. A federal agent and security officers also found Wienke had a knife, pepper spray, thermal imaging equipment and radio devices.
And the feds said in the court filing that Wienke was found in his workspace, which is in close proximity to a meeting of senior agency officials the day of his arrest -- and that Wienke was aware of the meeting.
In the same court filing, the agent said there was “probable cause to believe Jonathan Wienke was conspiring with another to commit workplace violence and, more particularly, may have been conspiring or planning to commit violence against the senior DHS officials in the building.”