Man Who Pulled Gun at Capitol Visitor Center Pleads Not Guilty

Suspect Larry Dawson, hospitalized since March, makes first court appearance

A chaotic scene at the Capitol Visitor Center in March after a Tennessee man pointed what appeared to be a weapon toward Capitol Police officers. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
A chaotic scene at the Capitol Visitor Center in March after a Tennessee man pointed what appeared to be a weapon toward Capitol Police officers. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Posted May 11, 2016 at 2:19pm

The man who was shot after pulling out a gun at the Capitol Visitor Center in March made his first court appearance Wednesday still wearing hospital garb.  

During a brief hearing in federal court in Washington, Larry Dawson, 66, of Antioch, Tennessee, pleaded not guilty to a federal charge of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers or employees with a dangerous weapon.  That charge carries a maximum of 25 years in prison.  

He is also charged with assaulting a federal law enforcement officer with a dangerous weapon, which carries a maximum of 30 years.  

A source close to the Capitol Police told CQ Roll Call after the shooting that Dawson was carrying a BB gun. Dawson, who was reportedly shot in the chest and thigh, was discharged from a Washington hospital Wednesday, said his attorney, federal public defender A.J. Kramer.  



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Prosecutors outlined a harrowing episode on March 28 when Dawson pulled out a weapon and pointed it toward Capitol Police officers staffing a security checkpoint at the entrance of the visitor center.

Surveillance video shows officers helping adults and children out of the line of fire, “crouched against the (center’s) walls and behind the metal detector equipment to avoid gunfire,” according to a criminal complaint.
 

Dawson was shot twice by two Capitol Police officers after he pulled out the BB gun from his waist and pointed it toward one of the officers. He has been hospitalized in Washington since the incident.  



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Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa said Dawson was known to police prior to the incident. Dawson had been detained in October after shouting “I am a prophet of God” on the House floor.  

On Wednesday, Dawson was wheeled in and out of court wearing a hospital gown and blanket. Attorneys will consult with the general counsel of the D.C. Department of Corrections to determine if D.C. Jail can house Dawson.  

Kramer told the judge that Dawson’s discharge papers included “lengthy and specific” directions for medical care. Dawson remains in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.  

Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter


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