Coast Guard officer accused of wanting to commit mass killing indicted

Coast Guard officer accused of wanting to commit mass killing indicted
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A Coast Guard officer who allegedly stockpiled weapons and wrote a hit list of prominent Democrats and journalists was indicted Wednesday on gun and drug possession charges, the Department of Justice announced in a news release.

Christopher Hasson, 49, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was charged with the unlawful possession of two improperly registered silencers, the possession of the narcotic tramadol and the possession of 17 firearms as an unlawful user and addict of a controlled substance.

“We continue to gather evidence, as well as review evidence already obtained as part of this ongoing investigation,” US Attorney Robert K. Hur said in the statement.

If Hasson is convicted, he faces maximum prison sentences of 10 years for each of the three charges related to firearms and silencers and of one year for possession of tramadol, according to the release.

CNN left messages for Hasson’s attorney seeking comment on the charges Wednesday evening.

Hasson, an alleged white supremacist, who was arrested on Feb. 15, appeared to be inspired by the manifesto of Anders Breivik, a Norwegian who was convicted in 2011 of two terror attacks that killed 77 people, according to court documents.

Hasson’s alleged hit list included Democratic politicians — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Kamala Harris of California and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas — as well as CNN journalists Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo and Van Jones and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Ari Melber and Joe Scarborough.

“The defendant is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct,” prosecutors wrote in court documents prior to Hasson’s indictment.

While prosecutors argued in court last week, and in a detention memo, that Hasson should be detained because he poses a threat to his community, and they label him a “domestic terrorist” in the memo, domestic terror is not a federal crime. The FBI Agents Association notes that because domestic terrorism is not a federal crime, federal prosecutors often need to rely upon non-terrorism charges such as hate crime or state laws.

Hasson’s attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Julie Stelzig, argued at a hearing last week that it is “not a crime to think negative thoughts about people … or doomsday scenarios,” adding, “We are not yet a society that criminalizes people for their thoughts … or detains people for their internet searches.”

An arraignment hearing in US District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, has yet to be scheduled, the news release stated.