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Man arrested with bayonet and machete near DNC headquarters in D.C., police say

A view of the weapons police said were found in a truck driven by Donald Craighead, 44, of Oceanside, Calif., who was arrested for possession of prohibited weapons after authorities say he drove his truck near the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington on Monday.
A view of the weapons police said were found in a truck driven by Donald Craighead, 44, of Oceanside, Calif., who was arrested for possession of prohibited weapons after authorities say he drove his truck near the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington on Monday. (United States Capitol Police)

A man from California was arrested Monday after he was found with multiple knives, a bayonet and a machete in his truck outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters near Capitol Hill, authorities said.

They said Donald Craighead, 44, of Oceanside, Calif., faces a charge of possession of prohibited weapons.

Craighead’s 65-year-old father, Donald W. Craighead, said his son has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and has a fixation with the CIA and the FBI. As far as he knows, he said, his son has never hurt or threatened to hurt anyone.

“He’s just been a nomad for the last 20 to 30 years,” the elder Craighead said in a telephone interview from his home in California. “I’ve been trying to get him help for years. He doesn’t respond.”

As of Monday afternoon, Craighead had not made his initial appearance in court. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said prosecutors have not decided whether to take the case in federal or local Superior Court. It could not be determined if Craighead has an attorney.

Monday’s incident occurred around midnight. U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that a special operation division officer saw a Dodge Dakota truck with a swastika and “other white supremacist symbols painted on it” outside of the DNC headquarters.

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The officer pulled the truck’s driver over along the 500 block of South Capitol Street SW, officials said. Police said that the truck did not have a license plate and that a picture of an American flag was placed where the plate should have been.

Officers reported they saw a bayonet and machete inside the truck.

Craighead told the officers he was “on patrol” and started to talk about white supremacist ideology and “other rhetoric pertaining to white supremacy,” police said in the statement.

The arrest of Craighead came less than one month after police detained a man in a truck parked near the Capitol who threatened to blow up two blocks with an explosive device if he didn’t get to speak with President Biden about several grievances.

No bomb was found in that car, although officials said they did discover materials that could be used to make explosives. Officials later said the man had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Authorities are also still trying to find the person believed to have placed pipe bombs near the Republican and Democratic National Committee headquarters in D.C. the night before the
Jan. 6 insurrection.

Authorities on Monday said it is not immediately known if Craighead was planning to attend any “upcoming demonstrations,” such as one planned for Saturday to support people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot, which is prompting police to ramp up security and put up a security fence around the Capitol.

Sam Cornale, the executive director of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement that employees “are thankful for Capitol police containing this threat.”

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Donald W. Craighead, an electrical contractor who lives near Sacramento, said he never heard his son talk about the insurrection at the Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump or heard him articulating a desire to attend Saturday’s demonstration. He said he did not know his son to be outwardly political or a Trump supporter.

The elder Craighead said his son would call when he needed money and once showed up at his home with a machete and an expandable baton. He said his son had recently used the address of a friend in Oceanside, about 40 miles north of San Diego, to get mail.

Donald W. Craighead said his son recently embarked on a cross-country trip to visit D.C., and had started out by bus. He said his son bought the truck in North Carolina, though it had stolen license plates, which his father said got him arrested in Wise, Va.

The father said he sent his son his $1,200 government stimulus check to get his truck out of impound, and he drove to the District. The elder Craighead said he had been trying to reach his son when he learned of the arrest on Monday.

Donald W. Craighead said his son, a handyman by trade, has harbored white supremacist thoughts for years. “He just can’t deal with society,” the father said. “He thinks people are watching him all the time.”

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Alice Crites contributed to this report.

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