Man with bayonet, machete arrested outside DNC building in D.C.

The 44-year-old told police he was "on patrol" and voiced white supremacist ideologies, police said

By Teri Figueroa
The San Diego Union-Tribune

WASHINGTON — U.S. Capitol Police arrested an Oceanside man who had a machete and bayonet inside his truck outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters early Monday.

Donald Craighead, 44, told police he was "on patrol," and spoke about White supremacist ideology, Capitol police said in a news release. He was arrested on suspicion of possession of prohibited weapons.

U.S. Capitol Police said an officer found a machete and bayonet inside the truck of an Oceanside, California man during a traffic stop near the Democratic National Headquarters early Monday, September 13, 2021.
U.S. Capitol Police said an officer found a machete and bayonet inside the truck of an Oceanside, California man during a traffic stop near the Democratic National Headquarters early Monday, September 13, 2021. (U.S. Capitol Police/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Around midnight, a Special Operation Division officer noticed a Dodge Dakota pickup outside of the DNC headquarters. Painted on the pickup were a swastika and other symbols police described as being "White supremacist." The agency did not give details of the symbols.

Photos of the vehicle provided by the police show a swastika painted on the driver's sideview mirror and another drawn inside the driver's door. They also show a pentagram scrawled on the center of the steering wheel and the word "confederate" written along the dashboard.

The pickup had an American flag where the license plate would normally be placed.

Capitol Police said the officer pulled over the pickup shortly after midnight along South Capitol Street, SW, near the DNC building, which sits about a quarter-mile south of Independence Avenue along the south end of the Capitol building.

During the traffic stop, the officer spotted the bayonet and machete inside the truck. Both weapons are illegal in Washington, D.C.

Craighead talked to the officer about White supremacist ideology and other related topics, Capitol Police said. The agency did not specify what Craighead said.

"This is good police work plain and simple," Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement. "We applaud the officers' keen observation and the teamwork that resulted in this arrest."

The DNC building is not far from the national headquarters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The president of that organization released a statement thanking the officers "who arrested this suspect and perhaps prevented another act of white supremacist violence in our nation's capital."

"We welcome the growing acknowledgement of the threat white supremacists and bigots of all types pose to our nation," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said.

Capitol Police said it was not clear if Craighead was planning to attend any upcoming demonstrations in Washington, D.C., or if he was tied to any previous incidents in the area. An investigation is ongoing.

The arrest comes less than a week before a planned rally dubbed "Justice for J6," in support of those arrested during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. On Monday, the Capitol Police issued a statement saying temporary fencing would be reinstalled around the Capitol in advance of the Sept. 18 demonstration.

During the Jan. 6 insurrection, Ocean Beach resident Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer as she tried to enter a barricaded hallway leading to the House chamber.

There is no indication that Craighead was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, or that he was planning to be a part of the rally on Saturday.

Craighead's father and grandmother said he'd been living in the San Diego area until a few months ago when he took a bus to Virginia.

"He's mixed up. He's a harmless person," Craighead's father, Donald W. Craighead, told the Union-Tribune. He said his son is "not a monster."

A man with the same name and birthdate as the man arrested in D.C. on Monday has a handful of criminal cases in San Diego County, including two that resulted in prison terms for felony evading police in 2015 and 2016.

Records shows that the younger Craighead currently has two warrants for his arrest in San Diego. One is a $5,000 warrant issued in Vista Superior Court for failing to appear in court on misdemeanors charges of trespassing and exhibiting a knife.

The other is a no-bail warrant issued by El Cajon Superior Court in March for a 2019 felony robbery case.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

©2021 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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