Woman Charged With Bringing Knife to Library of Congress

Posted June 1, 2011 at 4:16pm

A local university employee was arrested Friday for allegedly trying to bring a switchblade into the Library of Congress, but she says Capitol Police treated her unfairly.

Gabrielle Barnhart, an administrative assistant at the University of Maryland College Park’s A. James Clark School of Engineering, was arrested at 11:41 a.m. while trying to enter the C Street entrance of the Library’s James Madison Building, according to Capitol Police records.

Officers found a spring-loaded knife, which is illegal in Washington, D.C., in Barnhart’s bag after she put the bag through the X-ray machine, according to the police report of the incident. She was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor possession of a prohibited weapon and transported to police headquarters for processing.

Barnhart said in an interview Wednesday that she did have the knife but that she thinks officers should have given her a slap on the wrist.

“It was in my makeup bag. I had no idea it was in there. Had I known, of course I wouldn’t have done that,” she said. “There was no intent or anything like that.” Barnhart says her court date is scheduled for a few weeks from now, but she doesn’t know whether the charge will be dismissed.

“Why they decided to go the route they did, I have no idea. I’m really disenchanted with the way that they handled things,” she said. “It was ridiculous, and I felt really ridiculous that they made that choice.”