The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
An Atlanta man arrested Tuesday after being spotted with a gun near the U.S. Capitol is currently on probation for a prior conviction in Fulton County, court records showed.
Ahmir Lavon Merrell, 21, prompted several street closures in the Union Station area of Washington D.C. when he was spotted with a rifle in a park, Capitol police said.
“‘See something, say something’ is not just an empty slogan. We are grateful for the individual who alerted our officer to the man with a gun in the park,” USCP Chief Tom Manger said in a media release. “These cops immediately ran toward the man with the loaded gun. As always, I am proud of our cops.”
Merrell was ordered to drop the weapon but refused, after which officers deployed Tasers. The park was temporarily closed while investigators searched the area and the suspect’s belongings.
A bag Merrell left on a bench was searched, but nothing suspicious was found, Capitol police said in social media posts.
“At this time we have no reason to believe there is an ongoing threat,” police said in a statement.
Merrell was charged with felon in possession of a firearm, unregistered ammunition, unregistered firearm, fugitive from justice, and unlawful activities, police said late Tuesday.
Merrell, who has an Atlanta address, was a junior at Banneker High School when he was arrested on cruelty to children and child molestation charges, court documents showed.
He pleaded guilty in January 2020, when he was 18, of cruelty to children in the second degree and was not prosecuted on the molestation charge, Fulton court records showed. He was sentenced as a first-time offender and ordered to be on the Georgia sex offender registry until he turned 21. Merrell, who turned 21 in January, was sentenced to eight years and given credit for the time he had already served, according to court documents.
Because of his conviction, Merrell was prohibited from possessing or using a gun while on probation, according to the terms of his plea agreement.
At his sentencing, Merrell’s stepmother told the court he would likely need additional help beyond his court-ordered punishment.
“I don’t understand why he made the choices that he made, but I know that he’s going to need some help as well,” she said. “I think that we need to figure out some type of counseling or something for him.”
After a two-week stay at a treatment facility, Merrell’s attorney told the court the plan was to have his probation moved to Maryland, where he would live with family members, court documents stated.
In a separate case, court documents showed Merrell is facing a misdemeanor theft charge from a 2019 incident. He had been due to appear in court Monday for a plea deal but did not, court records showed.