U.S. Capitol Police arrested a 25-year-old intern for U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas on Monday after, they say, he brought an unloaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun into a congressional office building.
Joshua Wheeler of Atchison, Kan., has been charged with carrying a pistol without a license and possession of an unregistered firearm, police said.
Police discovered the weapon during a search when Wheeler tried to enter an entrance of the Longworth House Office Building at New Jersey and C streets near the U.S. Capitol at about 9 a.m. on Monday. The office building connects to the Capitol via underground tunnels and a subway system. All those who enter must pass through a metal detector and put their bags through an X-ray machine.
Tom Brandt, a spokesman for Jenkins, said Wheeler used poor judgment. He said the intern was placed on temporary leave as soon as Jenkins’ office learned of his arrest.
“It is our current understanding this was an accident and we are in full cooperation with Capitol Police to resolve the situation,” Brandt said in a statement.
Wheeler started his summer internship on May 18 and was scheduled to finish on June 26, Brandt said in an interview.
Brandt said Wheeler definitely appeared to be qualified for the competitive congressional internship in Jenkins office. He studied at Benedictine College, a Catholic liberal arts college in Atchison, Brandt said, and had served as a deputy county clerk in 2013. He also started the Wheeler Family Foundation to assist low-income families, Brandt said.
The foundation “was created to teach families the importance of being financially savvy,” according to its website. “We seek to provide educational classes to teach children to learn basics such has how to write checks make smart purchases and save for their future.”
Wheeler, who remained in police custody Monday afternoon, could not be reached for comment.
Jenkins serves in the GOP leadership as vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference. She represents Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District.