Coast Guard officer arrested on gun charges had hit list of prominent Democrats, feds say

By Stefan Becket

/ CBS News

Coast Guard lieutenant arrested on gun charges

A self-professed white nationalist who is also a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard planned to "murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country," federal prosecutors said. He was arrested in Maryland last week.

Christopher Hasson, 49, faces federal charges of illegal possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance, according to court documents. But prosecutors wrote that those charges are "the proverbial tip of the iceberg."

"The defendant is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct," prosecutors from the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland wrote.

Federal agents executed a search warrant on Hasson's apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland, and found 15 firearms, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and records he had purchased thousands of pills of a heavy narcotic. Hasson allegedly accumulated the stockpile of firearms over the course of two years, eventually amassing an arsenal worth thousands of dollars.

An arsenal of firearms found in the home of Christopher Hasson. U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland

Investigators said they found a spreadsheet on Hasson's computer listing the names of several left-leaning television personalities and prominent Democratic members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

In January 2019, Hasson searched for phrases including "do senators have ss [secret service] protection," "are supreme court justices protected" and "best place in dc to see congress people," prosecutors said in a motion arguing for his pretrial detention.

The list also included the names of several Democratic presidential candidates, including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California.

The Coast Guard confirmed Hasson is an active duty member stationed at the service's headquarters in Washington. The investigation was led by the Coast Guard Investigation Services. Prosecutors said Hasson worked as an acquisitions officer, an assignment he began in 2016. The Department of Defense said Hasson was in the Marine Corps from 1988 until at least 1992, attaining the rank of corporal.

In early 2017, Hasson began studying the manifesto of Anders Breivik, a far-right extremist who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011, prosecutors said. The 1,500-page document detailed Breivik's extreme white nationalist ideology and served as a blueprint for planning similar attacks. Prosecutors said Hasson consulted the manifesto regularly.

Investigators found a draft of an email from June 2017 in which Hasson wrote he was "dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth."

"I was and am a man of action you cannot change minds protesting like that. However you can make change with a little focused violence," he wrote in a draft of another letter soon after the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. The government has expertly infiltrated and destroyed from within most if not all Pro White organizations … We need a white homeland as Europe seems lost."

In an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, FBI Special Agent Alexandria Thoman wrote that Hasson purchased the narcotic Tramadol from someone, likely in Mexico, who shipped the drugs to an address in California before sending them to Hasson.

The court documents filed Wednesday don't reveal why Hasson came under suspicion, but federal agents obtained a warrant and searched Hasson's desk at Coast Guard headquarters last Tuesday, Feb. 12. The agents found a bottle with dozens of small pink pills and equipment typically used for beating drug tests. They took two of the pills for testing, and both came back positive for Tramadol.

The next day, agents watched Hasson on video as he took the bottle out of his desk drawer and cut several pills with a knife before taking one of them, according to the criminal complaint.

On Feb. 15, agents arrested Hasson and discovered 100 pills thought to be Tramadol at his workspace. He also allegedly had more than 30 bottles labeled as human growth hormone in his apartment in addition to his arsenal of firearms.

Hasson is expected to make his first appearance in federal court Thursday.

United States of America v. Christopher Paul Hasson

United States District Court criminal complaint

First published on February 21, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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