ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — An armed man spotted at a North Carolina airport parking lot just after Air Force One departed Sunday told an officer he wanted to see the president and had a car equipped with police gear, including a siren and flashing lights, authorities said.
Joseph Sean McVey, 23, of Coshocton, Ohio, is charged with going armed in terror of the public, a misdemeanor, said Asheville Regional Airport Police Capt. Kevan Smith.
Security was heightened at the airport because President Barack Obama was leaving after spending the weekend vacationing in Asheville. He was headed to a memorial service for 29 West Virginia coal miners killed in an explosion.
At about 2 p.m., airport police saw McVey get out of a maroon car with Ohio plates and that he had a sidearm, Smith said. Both airport police and the Secret Service questioned him and he was taken into custody. The suspect was nowhere near the president’s plane, which had just departed, and was in a rental car return lot that is open to the public, Smith said.
His car was equipped with clear LED law enforcement-style strobe lights in the front and rear dash, Smith said. The car also had a mounted digital camera in the front window, four large antennas on the trunk lid, and under the steering wheel was a working siren box. Smith said McVey was not in law enforcement.
When McVey got out of the car, he was listening to a handheld scanner and radio that had a remote earpiece, Smith said. Police said he was monitoring local agencies and had formulas for rifle scopes on a note in his cup holder. Police did not immediately elaborate on what the formulas might mean and Smith was not available to comment late Sunday.
McVey gave authorities an Ohio driver’s license, but a computer check failed to show the number was valid, police said. His hometown of Coshocton is about halfway between Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio.
When Officer Kaleb Rice asked him what he was doing, McVey told him he heard the president was in town and wanted to see him.
Rice removed the firearm and took McVey into custody. He was being held at the Buncombe County jail on $100,000 bond.
The investigation into what McVey was doing with a gun, with formulas for rifle scopes and why his car was equipped with police gear was continuing, Smith said. The Secret Service had no comment on the arrest, deferring to airport police.
A jail officer said it didn’t appear McVey had an attorney. A person who answered a phone listing for Joseph McVey in Coshocton said he had no idea about an arrest.