WASHINGTON >> A Pennsylvania physician who sent a text message about traveling to visit the president with a carload of weapons was arrested Wednesday at the Trump International Hotel in Washington after police found an assault-style rifle and handgun in his car, authorities said.
Bryan Moles of Edinboro, Pennsylvania, was taken into custody at the downtown hotel, where he was staying as a guest, police said. At a news conference, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham said his department, as well as the Secret Service, received a tip from the Pennsylvania State Police at about 12:30 a.m. The tipster reported that Moles might be traveling to the Trump Hotel in Washington, armed with weapons and ammunition.
Moles, 43, checked into the hotel about 1 a.m. Authorities worked with hotel security to locate him and his car.
“I was very concerned about this circumstance,” Newsham said, “and I believe the officers and our federal partners, and in particular the tipster, averted a potential disaster here in our nation’s capital.”
The Secret Service said its agents and local police began investigating a potential threat. But Deputy Special Agent Michael Ball said at Wednesday’s press conference the Secret Service had determined Moles “posed no threat” to any of the people the Secret Service protects, which includes presidents and vice presidents and their families, former presidents and visiting foreign dignitaries.
A police report said authorities seized a Glock 23 pistol, a Bushmaster assault-style rifle and 90 rounds of ammunition from Moles’ vehicle.
He is being charged with carrying a pistol without a license and having unregistered ammunition. Newsham added that the department does not presently have enough evidence to charge Moles with making threats. He is expected to make an initial court appearance Thursday.
Newsham declined comment on what may have motivated Moles. He said he did not have a license to carry firearms in the District, which has strict gun laws. He did not know whether he was licensed to carry in Pennsylvania.
The police chief said when people come to the District “armed with those types of weapons, it’s a serious concern. … He doesn’t have a really good reason for being here.”
Dorian Adamik, the police chief in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, said the department got a call from a resident about Moles on Tuesday night. Adamik said the resident’s daughter had received a text message from Moles that said “something to the effect of he was traveling to D.C. with a carload of weapons and he was going to visit the president.”
Moles’ Facebook page is sprinkled with comments and photos indicating support for Trump. On Friday, he posted a question: “If you had to choose between a Hilton Hotel and a Trump hotel, which would you choose and why?” Someone replied, “Trump all the way. The dark side wants to disarm the public so they can … just walk through any resistance to their fascist thought police.” Moles liked the comment.
A longtime friend of Moles said “there is absolutely no way” he was planning violence. Lisa DellaRatta, a nurse practitioner in Florida, said she’s known him for more than 25 years and used to live with him. She said Moles “cannot be a more standup man.”
She said guns are prevalent in the rural area near Lake Erie where she and Moles grew up, and he’s always owned them.
Pennsylvania records show Moles renewed his license to practice medicine in October 2016. A spokeswoman at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center system said he had been placed on administrative leave there some time before Wednesday’s arrest. Moles worked at Saint Vincent Hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, until late 2013, according to Dan Laurent, a spokesman for Allegheny Health Network.
Moles served in the U.S. Navy from 1992 to 2006. He was a hospital corpsman, and was in the reserves in Erie for the last nine years of his service. He received several honors, including a Navy Reserve Meritorious Service Medal and a Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon.
His hometown of Edinboro is about 350 miles from Washington.