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Threat allegations keep Coast Guard officer jailed

Michael Balsamo
Associated Press
This image provided by the U.S. District Court in Maryland shows a photo of firearms and ammunition that was in the motion for detention pending trial in the case against Christopher Paul Hasson. Prosecutors say that Hasson, a Coast Guard lieutenant is a "domestic terrorist" who wrote about biological attacks and had a hit list that included prominent Democrats and media figures.

Washington – A Coast Guard officer suspected of drawing up a hit list of top Democrats and network TV journalists spent hours on his work computer researching the words and deeds of infamous bombers and mass shooters while also stockpiling weapons, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, 49, was ordered held without bail on drug and gun charges while prosecutors gather evidence to support more serious charges involving what they portrayed as a domestic terror plot by a man who espoused white-supremacist views.

Hasson, a former Marine who worked at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington on a program to acquire advanced new cutters for the agency, was arrested last week. Investigators gave no immediate details on how or when he came to their attention.

Federal agents found 15 guns, including several rifles, and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition inside his basement apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland.

In court papers this week, federal prosecutors said he compiled what appeared to be a computer-spreadsheet hit list that included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and presidential hopefuls Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. Also mentioned were such figures as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Joe Scarborough and CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Van Jones.

U.S. Attorney Robert Hur, center, of the District of Maryland, speaks as Art Walker, left, special agent from the Coast Guard investigative service, and Gordon Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore office, listen during a news conference about Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, outside the federal courthouse in Greenbelt, Md.

In arguing against bail Thursday, federal prosecutor Jennifer Sykes said Hasson would log onto his government computer during work hours and spend hours searching for information on such people as the Unabomber, the Virginia Tech gunman and anti-abortion bomber Eric Rudolph.

“This is not an isolated activity,” Sykes said, referring to evidence disclosed so far. “This is something that is being done for hours on end while he is at work.”

Calling Hasson a “domestic terrorist,” she said the charges so far are just the “tip of the iceberg.”

In court, public defender Julie Stelzig accused prosecutors of making inflammatory accusations against her client without providing the evidence to back them up. She also accused the government of trying to “criminalize thoughts” and perhaps make an example out of Hasson, given criticism that authorities have overlooked domestic terrorists.

“Perhaps now they can say, ‘Look, we’re not targeting only Muslims,’” she said.

Hasson was previously an aircraft mechanic in the Marines, serving from 1988 to 1994.

Court papers detail a 2017 draft email in which he wrote that he was “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.” Also, Hasson sent himself a draft letter in 2017 that he had written to a neo-Nazi leader and “identified himself as a White Nationalist for over 30 years and advocated for ‘focused violence’ in order to establish a white homeland,” prosecutors said.

Last February, he searched the internet for the “most liberal senators” and also asked, “Do senators have ss (Secret Service) protection” and “Are supreme court justices protected,” according to the court filing.

Bob Davis, who rents a house from Hasson in coastal Currituck County, North Carolina, and met him a few times, said he was “absolutely shocked” by the allegations.

“He was a very stern military guy. That’s how I saw him. I truly nothing but respected him. There are people in life who are not 100 percenters. He was a 100 percenter,” Davis said, meaning Hasson worked hard and didn’t slack off. “He portrayed in a very professional manner. He was honorable. … He was a good man.”