Feds: DHS employee may have been planning workplace violence
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — Federal authorities and a congressman said Wednesday they were continuing to investigate whether a Department of Homeland Security employee with a top-secret clearance was planning to attack at the agency’s Washington headquarters when he entered the building with a gun and other weapons.
Jonathan Wienke, a 45-year-old analyst in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, so far only faces a handgun charge and is not in custody, pending further court proceedings. He is accused of carrying a gun, a knife, an infrared camera, pepper spray and handcuffs into headquarters on the morning of June 9. According to court documents filed by the federal government, 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.”
Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House committee on homeland security, said his committee would look into the matter.
“Initial reports of this incident are very troubling,” McCaul said in a statement. “DHS has been in contact and we will continue to engage with the appropriate officials to gather all the facts.”
The federal government searched Wienke’s home in Martinsburg, West Virginia, a 75-mile commute from the office.
Martinsburg Deputy Police Chief George Swartwood said city police aided federal law enforcement in the search. He said he was unaware of any other city police calls to Wienke’s address.
No one answered the door at Wienke’s home, which is half of a duplex near an Amtrak station that federal workers use to commute to Washington. Wienke’s defense attorney, Aminata Ipyana, did not return a message seeking comment.
Wienke was charged on June 10 with carrying a pistol without a license and was released three days later pending further court proceedings, court records show. The case remains under investigation, said Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
Scott McConnell, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said Wienke has been placed on administrative leave.
In the affidavit for the search warrant, Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Eric Mann described the series of events that led the government to suspect Wienke was potentially plotting an attack.
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 Mann’s affidavit. Security measures include random screening at the door; Wienke was selected and his backpack was placed in 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, the affidavit states. The officers seized the knife and spray.
At 9 a.m. Mann and another officer followed up with Wienke at his cubicle, directly across from where senior officials were meeting, the documents say.
He gave them permission to search him and denied he was carrying any additional weapons, the affidavit alleges. 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. He wrote that he heard Wienke “utter an audible expletive.”
A man who answered the phone at a number listed for Wienke hung up when asked for a comment Tuesday evening.
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.
Associated Press writers Claire Galofaro in Louisville, Kentucky, Alanna Durkin Richer in Richmond, Virginia, and Ben Nuckols and Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington contributed to this report.
This article was written by David Dishneau from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.