GREENBELT, Md. – A federal criminal complaint was filed late this afternoon charging Jeremiah Peter Watson, age 22, of Hyattsville, Maryland, with being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

The criminal complaint was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner and Acting Chief of Police Gregory T. Monahan of the U.S. Park Police.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, on the evening of February 25, 2021, a dark four-door sedan, with significant damage to the passenger front and side, pulled up to the gated entry of the Secret Service facility within the National Agricultural Research Center, which is federal property.  The driver of the vehicle was having a conversation on speaker on his cellular phone, which had a green case.  The driver got out of the car and approached the security guard in an aggressive manner.  Another security officer arrived to assist.  Despite being given verbal commands to stop, the driver continued to approach and the security officer deployed pepper spray at the driver.

As detailed in the affidavit, the driver returned to his vehicle and began to drive from the area.  Another security officer and a Secret Service Officer arrived to assist and the Secret Service Officer called the U.S. Park Police for further assistance.  The first security officer was able to see and report to the Park Police the license number of the vehicle.  The driver then made a U-turn and began to fire a handgun at the victims, who fled into the guard house, which has bullet-proof glass.  The driver made another U-turn and continued to fire at the victims through the passenger window of his car.  A subsequent search of the scene recovered three .9mm shell casings.

The affidavit alleges that Watson was identified as the registered owner of the vehicle and one of the victims identified a photo of Watson as the person who had shot at the victims.  Watson’s vehicle was located where he has been residing.  A federal search warrant was executed earlier today at the residence and on Watson’s vehicle.  Law enforcement recovered a .9mm handgun loaded with three .9mm rounds in the magazine and a fourth in the chamber from the vehicle.  From the trunk jamb law enforcement recovered three .9mm shell casings, allegedly similar to the shell casings recovered from the scene of the shooting.  When law enforcement executed the search warrant at the residence, Watson was present.  Law enforcement seized a cellular phone with a green case from Watson’s vicinity and Watson subsequently provided law enforcement with the access code for the phone.

If convicted, Watson faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for illegal possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.  Watson is detained and is expected to have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt on Monday, March 1, 2021, although no time has been formally set.

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the U.S. Park Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Wright, who is prosecuting the case.

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