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Virginia Man Cries Foul Over Capitol Police Actions

Shimeles thinks Capitol Police overreacted. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The man at the center of a Memorial Day bomb scare near the National Mall wants Capitol Police to help pay for the pressure cooker and propane tank they detonated , plus for damage to his automobile.  

"Honestly, it's not only my equipment. They destroyed my car as well," said Israel Sean Shimeles, the Arlington, Va., man who was arrested on May 24. Traffic charges against Shimeles were later dropped, but he has yet to hear from Capitol Police in response to his damage claims. Acting out of an abundance of caution during the annual Memorial Day concert that draws thousands to the Capitol grounds, officers smashed their way into a “suspicious” car parked on the west side of Third Street Northwest, removed a pressure cooker and a propane tank — property Shimeles used for his food truck business — and then blew them up.  

Shimeles said he put in a claim with the department more than a month ago, after filing out forms associated with the property damage. Despite multiple calls and messages, Shimeles said he has gotten "no response."  

Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider also did not respond to an inquiry about the incident.  

After the arrest, police cited Shimeles with “Operating After Revocation,” a traffic offense. The charges were later dropped "because there was insufficient evidence to prove he had actually operated the motor vehicle in question," a spokesman for the District of Columbia attorney general told CQ Roll Call this week.  

Shimeles has acknowledged his actions were "stupid" and not well thought-out. He also apologized “for the inconvenience” to the Memorial Day crowd in the immediate wake of the incident.  

But a month later, silence from Capitol Police — plus rain soaking into the "busted back windows and front windows" of his vehicle — has Shimeles sounding frustrated.  

"They shouldn't have done anything," he said Thursday.  

Shimeles said he gave Capitol Police a key to the vehicle about two hours before they smashed his windows and detonated the equipment. Shimeles explained to police that the items were part of his operation. He declined to give CQ Roll Call further details on what or where he cooks, explaining he didn't want to draw negative attention to the business.  

At about 7:45 p.m. — two hours after Shimeles said he talked to police — bomb technicians “safely disrupted the items of concern in the vehicle including the pressure cooker” and performed a hand search, the department said in a May 24 statement.  

At about 8:20 pm, Capitol Police concluded the investigation of the vehicle with negative results and nothing hazardous found.  

Shimeles said he now feels "weird" and "paranoid" about transporting the propane tanks he uses for his food truck business.

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