Authorities Identify Capitol Hill Shooting Suspect
Weston's Montana cabin
Russell Weston was known to federal, local law enforcement authorities
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 24) -- Some details are beginning to emerge about the man who burst into the U.S. Capitol Friday and initiated the exchange of gunfire that left two Capitol police dead and one tourist seriously injured, including information that raises questions about what the man was doing on Capitol Hill.
Authorities identified the alleged gunman as Russell Weston Jr., an Illinois native who lives in Helena, Mont. It is unclear whether he was accompanied by anyone in the Capitol. Federal agents are trying to determine the suspect's exact date of birth.
The man, who was seriously injured himself by the officers' return gunfire, has been described as a white Midwesterner in his 40s. Senior law enforcement officers told CNN he is known to the Secret Service as someone who had a "specific direction of intent," or someone who has displayed threatening behavior toward the president.
He is apparently listed in Secret Service computers as someone who had previously threatened the president's life. Law enforcement agents describe him as an unstable individual who apparently has also made threats against the Pentagon.
The Miami Herald Online news site reported a man identifying himself as Weston's father said his son has a history of mental illness, and he threw his son out of the family home in Valmeyer, Ill., Thursday after he killed more than a dozen cats with a shotgun. The father also said his personal handgun, a Smith & Wesson .38 special, was missing.
Weston was armed with a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver. The Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco and Firearms is currently doing a trace on the weapon.
The suspect was reportedly shot three times, in the chest, arm and leg, during the exchange and is reported to be in stable condition at D.C. General Hospital.
No motive for the attack or the suspect's previous threatening behavior toward the president is known at this time.
CNN's Kelli Arena, reporting from the hospital, said the suspect was conscious after he arrived at the hospital, but made no statements that could explain the motive for the shooting. He is currently undergoing surgery to treat his gunshot wounds.
The investigation has been officially declared a homicide investigation, and Attorney General Janet Reno has appointed her deputy, Eric Holder, as the principal person at the Justice Department overseeing the investigation.