Armed Man Sought to Help Police, Files Say

By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Virginia man who was caught with a homemade grenade and an assault rifle near the Library of Congress last week told authorities that he came to Washington to help police in the event of a conflict, according to charging papers.

Christopher S. Timmons, 27, said he wanted to provide more "manpower" in case of a conflict with a secret society, charging documents say. He also told police that he planned to visit the Library of Congress to research secret societies, the court papers say. He was arrested Friday after he stopped his Jeep to ask an officer for directions.

The officer noticed a rifle case on a passenger seat, leading to a search that uncovered the grenade, AK-47, knives and ammunition, authorities said. Yesterday, a magistrate judge at D.C. Superior Court ordered that Timmons remain jailed pending trial on a weapons charge, ruling that he appears too dangerous to release.

Timmons is from Orange County, in central Virginia, and lived about seven miles from another man arrested near the Capitol this year: Michael S. Gorbey, 38, who was convicted of carrying a loaded shotgun and sword and stashing explosives in a pickup truck. Authorities said no evidence has emerged suggesting that Timmons knew Gorbey, who was arrested in January.

Authorities said Timmons was arrested in March in Albemarle County and charged with carrying a concealed weapon. He was ordered to stay away from weapons as part of his probation, they said.

On Friday morning, police arrested Timmons at Second Street and Independence Avenue SE, within blocks of the Capitol.

Sitting in the courtroom yesterday, Timmons wore court-issued headphones to better hear the proceedings. His court-appointed attorney, Jia M. Cobb, said her client has difficulty hearing. A sign-language interpreter sat in front of him during the proceedings.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff, who also handled the prosecution of Gorbey, asked the court to order a mental evaluation. Magistrate Judge Andrea L. Harnett denied the request after Cobb said Timmons is competent.

U.S. Capitol Police Special Agent Mark Crawford, the lead detective in the case, had the same role in the Gorbey investigation. Crawford testified that police found three magazines of ammunition near the unloaded rifle in Timmons's Jeep. He said the rifle could fire about 13 rounds with one pull of the trigger.

Crawford said the grenade, which had a fuse, had the potential of "harming, injuring or maiming individuals." Police said a follow-up search of Timmons's home found four more handmade grenades.

Under Cobb's cross-examination, Crawford said Timmons told police that he had no plans to harm anyone during his visit. No interpreter for the hearing impaired was present at Timmons's questioning at police headquarters, Crawford said.

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company