dc-crime

Gyrocopter Pilot Douglas Hughes: 'I'm Proud of What I Did'

Hughes plans to plead guilty to one felony charge. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Douglas Hughes said Friday he plans to plead guilty to one felony charge related to his gyrocopter flight to the Capitol in April — but he is not ashamed.  

The Florida man flew from Pennsylvania to the Capitol on April 15, to deliver letters to Congress pushing for a campaign finance overhaul. He was immediately arrested for breaching restricted airspace and later indicted on two felony and four misdemeanor charges. After several months of negotiations, Hughes is poised to accept a plea deal this month. "I’m proud of what I did and I’m not going to be ashamed of accepting a felony conviction," Hughes said in a phone interview with CQ Roll Call. "Somebody sent me a link to a song on YouTube, the title of which says it all. It says, 'Have You Been to Jail for Freedom?' It says it all.”  

Suspect Shot by Union Station Security Guard Dies

Bystanders overlook the scene of a shooting by a security guard near the McDonald's in Union Station. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 7:35 p.m. | A shooting incident at Union Station put Capitol Hill on alert just as the House wrapped up its final votes for the week.  

Police said a woman was stabbed and a male suspect was shot by a security officer Friday at the transportation hub just north of the Capitol. The suspect died several hours later, according to police.

Capitol Hill Grappling With D.C. Crime Spike

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Capitol Hill’s police advisory council usually convenes to discuss crime and policing issues, a handful of residents show up. On Sept. 1, it was standing room only.  

Capitol Hill residents and others living in the Metropolitan Police Department’s 1st District gathered at the police station in Southwest D.C. to voice concerns about the recent spike in violent crime rocking the nation’s capital. In the front row sat 13 year-old Taije Chambliss, who walked into the station with help from a walker. Chambliss was recovering from being shot in a drive-by shooting on Aug. 30, just a few blocks from the police station. “It’s getting old,” one clearly frustrated resident told 1st District Commander Jeff Brown. “It’s getting increasingly more dangerous.”  

Slain Former Intern Remembered at American University

Sutherland stands in front of the White House. (Courtesy of the Sutherland family)

On a small altar at the American University chapel sat red, white and blue flowers, a New York Yankees cap, and a picture of a beaming young man standing in front of the White House.  

More than 100 students, faculty and members of the community gathered at the Kay Spiritual Life Center on the northwest D.C. campus to remember the young man in the picture: Kevin Sutherland.  

Ex-Cochran Aide Pleads Guilty to Drug Conspiracy

Cochran heads to the Senate floor for a vote on July 9. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The former aide to Mississippi GOP Sen. Thad Cochran who was arrested as part of a sex-for-drugs scheme pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.  

Fred Pagan, 49, admitted in federal court just a few blocks from the Capitol that from February until he was arrested in April, he participated in a scheme to possess and distribute meth and assist others in possessing the drug.  

Gyrocopter Pilot Looks to Crowdfund Defense Counsel

Hughes wants to crowdsource his legal defense, but a federal judge isn't sure whether the law will allow it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Florida mailman Douglas Hughes is looking to crowdfund a First Amendment legal defense against the six felony and misdemeanor charges he faces from his April 15 gyrocopter landing on the West Front. In federal court Wednesday, free-speech attorney Mark Goldstone described plans for an online fundraising effort that would capitalize on the "outpouring of support" from "across the country" to collect the money Hughes would need to retain Goldstone as a co-counsel. Sporting a navy silk tie emblazoned with the the Constitution, Goldstone called the flight "aerial civil disobedience."  

Hughes, 61, who filed for food stamps last month after being fired from the Postal Service, is currently represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Tony Miles. With a client list that includes protesters arrested for demonstrating at the Capitol, Supreme Court and the White House, Goldstone would be brought on board to supplement Miles' services.  

Capitol Police Stop Ex-Cop From Taking Loaded Revolver Into Library

Police at the Library of Congress Jefferson Building found a loaded gun in the Virginia man's briefcase. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:33 p.m. | Capitol Police stopped a 55-year-old Virginia man who claimed to be a local cop from carrying a loaded revolver into the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building Tuesday.  

Jeff Jefferson Ahn, listed as Yong Ahn in documents filed in D.C. Superior Court, entered the Jefferson Building's carriage entrance on First Street Southeast, Tuesday morning. He placed a black briefcase into the X-ray machine around 9:45 a.m. During screening, an officer noticed what appeared to be a handgun. Ahn was immediately placed into handcuffs while police investigated his briefcase. Inside, they found a Charter Arms .38 revolver, five rounds of ammunition and a brown holster, according to an affidavit. Doors were secured and a supervisor was called to the scene. Ahn spontaneously told police "that he worked for [Metropolitan Police Department] and that the revolver was his off duty" weapon, the document states.  

National Security or First Amendment? Gyrocopter Case Proceeds

Hughes wants to argue a "necessity defense" for his gyrocopter flight. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The airspace security concerns Congress has harped on since the April 15 gyrocopter stunt on the West Front continue to delay Douglas Hughes from a federal trial, but the Florida mailman has dreamed up his own defense strategy.  

Hughes presented his "necessity defense" to reporters Wednesday, after a status hearing in the federal courthouse mere blocks from the Capitol. "I flew here," the 61-year-old said, "because it's ... the only way I could come up with for the average person to have a pulpit to fight against billions of dollars of special interest money that dominates this city."  

Former Cochran Staffer Hopes for Plea Deal in Sex-for-Drugs Case

A federal judge on Friday granted attorneys more time for the case of a 49-year-old man who spent decades working for Sen. Thad Cochran , starting with a stint as the Mississippi Republican's page, before serious drug charges related to methamphetamine and date rape drugs cost him his career.  

Fred W. Pagan pleaded not guilty on April 29 to charges of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and importation of a controlled substance, after allegedly confessing plans to distribute both drugs “in exchange for sexual favors.” U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell continued the case until Aug. 7, with attorneys hinting a plea deal may be in the works. "Productive discussions" are underway about a disposition in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Pearlman told Howell during a quick status hearing at the federal courthouse blocks from the Capitol. Further evidence still needs to be produced, including phone records and Drug Enforcement Administration analysis of some of the items found in Pagan's Northwest Washington house.  

Himes Consoles Family of Slain Former Intern

Himes consoled the family of a former intern who was murdered in D.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., was in his home state Monday paying respects to the family of former intern Kevin Sutherland, who was stabbed to death on July 4 in Washington, D.C.  

Sutherland, a 24-year-old American University graduate, worked in Himes' congressional office as an intern from September to December 2013. He recently began working as a digital strategist for New Blue Interactive, a new media strategy firm specializing in Democratic campaigns. On July 4, Sutherland was stabbed on a Red Line train as it approached the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro Station. Sutherland died from his injuries before paramedics could reach him. Police arrested Jasper Spires Monday on a first-degree murder charge.