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Drunk Kentucky man drives to Pentagon with loaded gun on ‘liberty business,’ cops say

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A Kentucky man was arrested last week after showing up at the Pentagon visibly drunk with a loaded shotgun, saying he was there on “liberty business,” federal court records said.

Charles Lawson of Pineville, Kentucky, was speaking incoherently when Pentagon police officers approached him in a parking lot at the U.S. Department of Defense’s sprawling Virginia headquarters on Aug. 6, according to an affidavit written by a special agent who interviewed Lawson. The affidavit was filed in support of an arrest warrant in a Virginia federal court.

Lawson told the two patrolling officers that he was in the area for “liberty business” and also said he had a loaded 12-gauge shotgun in his vehicle — at which point the officers detained and handcuffed Lawson, the affidavit said.

A search of Lawson’s 2000 Chevrolet Silverado pickup revealed a shotgun loaded with six shells, two loose shells, a 25-count box of shells, an 18-inch machete, “a green leafy substance wrapped in white paper,” two other knives and an open 1.75-liter bottle of Jim Beam Vanilla, according to the affidavit. That’s when Lawson was arrested.

The special agent was called to the scene, where Lawson “did not answer my questions directly, instead speaking in rhymes about the business he was to conduct,” the agent wrote in the affidavit.

Lawson told the agent he’d left his Pineville home the night before, on Aug. 5 around 11 p.m., with the “family heirloom” shotgun — only stopping along the route to pick up ammunition at a Walmart and to refuel, according to the affidavit.

Lawson seemed “visibly intoxicated,” the affidavit said, and admitted to drinking all day.

After Lawson was taken to an Arlington, Virginia, hospital for a mental health evaluation, a doctor told the special agent that Lawson made “comments about being diagnosed as schizophrenic,” the affidavit said.

Kentucky police told Pentagon investigators that Lawson had been involuntarily committed for mental illness for three days in Kentucky in February. The hospitalization came after his wife reported her husband, who was diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia, was having suicidal thoughts and damaging the home, according to the affidavit.

Lawson is charged with unlawfully possessing a firearm after being committed to a mental institution, according to a criminal complaint filed Aug. 9.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
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