Authorities are investigating whether a Homeland Security employee with top-secret clearance was planning to assassinate top officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters when he entered the building earlier this month with a loaded revolver, a 3-inch folding knife, an infrared camera, pepper spray and handcuffs.
Jonathan Wienke, an analyst in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, allegedly carried the weapons into the building when he showed up for work on the morning of June 9, ABC News reports.
Investigators say they believe Wienke was conspiring with another person, who hasn’t been named, to commit a mass shooting or some other type of “workplace violence” against the senior DHS officials meeting directly across from his cubicle.
They said Wienke — who had top-secret clearance in the building — was aware of that meeting.
Court documents filed by the government state that investigators have probable cause to believe Wienke “was conspiring with another to commit workplace violence, and more particularly may have been conspiring or planning to commit violence against senior DHS officials in the building.”
Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, told the Associated Press that Wienke was charged June 10 with carrying a pistol without a license and was released June 13 pending a court hearing. The case remains under investigation.
Wienke has been placed on administrative leave.
Federal agents also searched his home in Martinsburg, West Virginia, 75 miles from the office, but did not disclose what, if anything, was found.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, issued a statement Wednesday on the incident:
“Initial reports of this incident are very troubling, and my Committee is looking into this serious matter,” McCaul said. “DHS has been in contact and we will continue to engage with the appropriate officials to gather all the facts.”
“There aren’t many details in the initial news release. All (DHS) employees are monitored and assume they must be,” former Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota told WND.
She said the case doesn’t immediately appear to have ties to radical Islam, but until more information on Wienke and his alleged accomplice is released, nothing can be ruled out.
“However, the Obama administration’s approach has consistently been to provide cover for anything Islamic related,” she said. “I don’t know whether we are talking about a leftist traitor like Snowden, or whether this is part of Islamic jihad. Clearly the answer is to keep anyone who is supportive of jihad away from sensitive information.”
The affidavit for the search warrant provided a timeline leading up to the arrest.
At 7:30 a.m. on June 9, Wienke entered the building, which has a security level on par with the White House and the Pentagon, according to DHS Special Agent Eric Mann’s affidavit. Security measures include random screening at the door; Wienke was selected and his backpack set upon a screening machine.
Security officers found a folding knife with a 3-inch blade, two hand-held radios, pepper spray, an infrared camera and a set of handcuffs, among other items, according to the affidavit.
At 9 a.m. Mann and another officer followed up with Wienke at his cubicle, directly across from where senior officials were meeting.
He gave them permission to search him and denied he was carrying any additional weapons, the affidavit states. Mann wrote that he patted Wienke down and discovered a five-shot revolver loaded with .22-caliber hollow-point rounds in the front pocket of his pants. Wienke could be heard uttering “an audible expletive.”
In his affidavit for a search warrant, Mann listed the potential crimes as attempt and conspiracy to assassinate, kidnap or assault a member of the executive branch of the government, false impersonation of a federal officer and possession of a firearm in a federal facility.
It is unclear in the documents what officers found in his home, or whether prosecutors intend to pursue additional charges.