More Charges Are Likely in Gorbey Case

Posted February 11, 2008 at 6:36pm



Updated Feb. 12, 10:59 a.m.

Police are expecting to file additional charges against Michael Gorbey, the man arrested last month for wielding a loaded shotgun near the Capitol, after investigators found more “hazardous material” inside a pickup truck that officers had impounded at the time of Gorbey’s arrest.

Three weeks after a Capitol Police bomb squad apparently cleared the impounded pickup truck by “disrupting” it with a powerful water cannon, investigators with the department’s hazardous device unit discovered the object while executing a search warrant on the pickup on Friday morning, said Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider.

The truck had been stored at a Capitol Police site located on the campus of the Government Printing Office.

Schneider said that based on Friday’s discovery, additional charges are expected to be filed against Gorbey.

Schneider declined to provide any further details about the “hazardous material.”

But according to one Capitol Hill police source, investigators said the device was a metal container with a black powdery substance wrapped in a towel. Attached to the metal container was a plastic bottle with black powder, BB’s and shotgun shells inside. The whole device, the source said, was covered in masking tape.

After officers found the new material, the immediate area surrounding the vehicle was evacuated so an investigation could be conducted, although parts of the GPO site remained open, Schneider said.

Officials then disrupted the device, which turned out to be negative, said Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer. Officials cleared the scene just before noon, Schneider said.

The device was not found to be a bomb or hand grenade, Schneider said, adding that the truck on Friday was moved to a secure facility off Capitol Hill.

Capitol Police arrested Gorbey without incident on Jan. 18 after he was spotted carrying the Mossberg 500A shotgun and an array of other weapons while walking near the 300 block of First Street Northeast.

Gorbey, who told officers he was headed to the Supreme Court for a meeting with Chief Justice John Roberts, was later charged in Superior Court for the District of Columbia as a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty.

Following Gorbey’s arrest, several streets surrounding the north part of the Congressional campus were shut down for several hours, so the pickup truck could be searched for potential dangers.

During that initial search, investigators did not find explosives, but propane tanks and additional weapons were discovered.

Asked why a more in-depth search of the truck was not conducted at the scene, Gainer said he “wouldn’t second-guess” the department’s decision to conduct the follow-up search at the GPO site.

Original searches such as the one conducted on Jan. 18 are conducted just to ensure the vehicle does not pose an immediate threat to the public, Gainer said.

“It’s rather preliminary and obvious, just to make sure the vehicle was rendered safe,” Gainer said. “Getting into more detail, pulling chairs apart … you wouldn’t want to do that in the street.”

And it is not unusual for additional searches to be undertaken in a complicated case such as this, Gainer said. Follow-up searches require a warrant, Gainer said, which he added can take some time.

Gorbey remains locked up in the D.C. Jail. A Capitol Police search of court records found that Gorbey has been convicted of seven felony counts, six in Virginia and one in West Virginia. The charges ranged from larceny to probation violations, according to police.

Gorbey also was questioned in 1994 by authorities after he flew over restricted airspace near Camp David. He has been arrested on various charges more than 30 times.

At his most recent court appearance, Gorbey asked Judge Gregory Jackson to let him represent himself at trial, arguing that he does not get along with public defender Elizabeth Mullin, who currently represents him.

During that hearing, Gorbey told Jackson he is capable of defending himself, as he has done in some of his past trials. But Jackson told Gorbey to work with Mullin to see if an attorney-client relationship can be salvaged by Feb. 14, when Gorbey is due back in D.C. Superior Court.