Police: Antioch man shot at US Capitol after pointing pellet gun at officers
WASHINGTON — The man taken into custody following a shooting at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C., on Monday is from Antioch.
Capitol police said 66-year-old Larry Dawson tried to go through a metal detector at the visitors center with a pellet gun. He then drew the weapon and was shot by a Capitol police officer.
Dawson underwent surgery on Monday afternoon. He is now in critical but stable condition.
Police said a bystander was also shot, but her injures are not considered serious.
Last October, police said Dawson disrupted a session of the House by yelling that he was “a prophet of God.”
Court documents also show Dawson was charged with assaulting a police officer but that he never made it to court. When a warrant for his arrest was issued, Dawson responded with a letter in January claiming again to be a prophet of God and saying he was above the law.
Dawson said he went to Washington three times to lobby Congress to increase the minimum wage to $15.
According to the TBI, Dawson was charged with harassment in 2001 and 2003. Those charges stemmed from Williamson County, where school officials confirmed he worked on and off since 1980.
District spokeswoman Carol Birdsong said Dawson worked in the cafeteria and as a bus driver. Birdsong said he was fired in 2001 for writing an inappropriate letter to a student who rode his bus.
“Mr. Dawson was terminated for inappropriate behavior, inappropriate conduct, specifically related to letter writing to a student,” Birdsong said.
Channel 4 learned Dawson worked as a licensed funeral director dating back to the 1970s. Records show he was denied reapplication in 2008, 2009 and 2014. A state board denied Dawson on grounds of lacking good moral character.
In a 2014 meeting while Dawson was applying for a funeral director license in Williamson County, he talked about the harassment charge.
A board member said to him, “You are quoted saying here that it was the word of God that told you to write harassing letters to a 15-year-old girl.”
Dawson said, “I have not denied anything that happened at that time. I stood by my conviction. But again, me being a minister, that was my test. The thing is sometimes we can’t choose what that test is.”
According to Dawson’s criminal record, he was found not guilty in the letter incident by reason of insanity.
While addressing the charge at the 2014 meeting, Dawson made a promise to continue his life doing the right thing.
“There is always a chance you can come back, but the main thing again is just do right. That’s the key,” he said.
Dawson’s earliest arrest goes back to 1987 when he was charged with fraud in Lawrence County.
Dawson lives in a home with his daughter on Rainey Drive in Antioch, which is a quiet neighborhood with manicured lawns.
The people who know Dawson say he was a friendly and good neighbor.
“Every day walking his dog up and down the street, stop and say hey, ask me how work is, when’s school out, when’s spring break, and how’s everything going,” said one of Dawson’s neighbors.
Here in Antioch, Dawson ran a church that’s little more than a website. The church website solicits donations for a future building, claiming it will cost millions.
What caused Dawson to allegedly fire on Capitol police isn’t known, but neighbors say this is not the man they know.
“Never in my wildest imagination would I have pictured this, which makes me think this is not the guy, or if it’s the guy, then he’s got two separate lives that he leads,” said Dawson’s neighbor. “It’s hard to believe seeing that this could possibly be the guy who did that in our government capital and he lives right down the street. It’s kind of shocking and scary.”
Because of the unwanted publicity, Dawson’s relatives have temporarily left their home.
Dawson has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, among other charges. His vehicle has been secured and will be searched when a warrant is granted.