For Immediate Release
Hanover Man Admits to Using Ghost Gun to Shoot at United States Secret Service Security Guards
Greenbelt, Maryland – Jeremiah Peter Watson, age 24, of Hanover, Maryland, pleaded guilty yesterday to assault on a federal officer with a deadly or dangerous weapon; and using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm in relation to a violent crime.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Acting Special Agent in Charge L.C. Cheeks of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; and Chief of Police Pamela A. Smith of the U.S. Park Police.
According to his guilty plea, on February 25, 2021, Watson drove to the entrance of a United States Secret Service facility, positioning his vehicle in a manner that blocked the driveway and prevented other drivers from passing through the entrance of the facility. When a security officer (Victim 1) approached Watson to ask him to move his vehicle, Watson became verbally combative and did not move his vehicle.
A second security officer (Victim 2) approached Watson and asked him to move his vehicle and informed him that if he did not move his vehicle, a United States Secret Service agent would arrest him. Watson continued to be combative towards the security. During the confrontation, Watson approached Victim 1 aggressively and lunged at Victim 2, putting his face within inches of Victim 2’s face.
When Watson lunged at Victim 2 and reached into his pocket, Victim 2 was startled and believed that Watson was armed. In response, Victim 2 began to pull out his firearm and Victim 1 sprayed pepper spray at Watson. Watson then retreated into his vehicle and drove away.
Before Watson drove away, the victims noted Watson’s distinctive colored cell phone case and license plate number. As Victim 1, Victim 2, another security guard (Victim 3) and a United States Secret Service agent (Victim 4), began to re-enter the facility building, the victims saw Watson’s vehicle return and saw a flash of a gunshot coming out of the driver-side window towards them. Watson did another U-turn and fired at least four additional shots before he drove away.
As stated in his guilty plea, United State Park Police officers responded to the scene where law enforcement recovered three 9mm ammunition shell casings and located a bullet fragment within a wall. Through the review of information associated with Watson’s license plate registration, law enforcement linked the vehicle to Watson’s Hanover, Maryland address and identified the vehicle at Watson’s residence later that night.
On February 26, 2021, law enforcement executed search warrants at Watson’s residence and recovered Watson’s cell phone, 9mm ammunition, two empty 9mm cartridge cases, and a privately made 9mm handgun without a serial number, also known as a “ghost gun”. Forensic examination concluded that the cartridge cases recovered from Watson’s vehicle had been fired from the recovered ghost gun and that the bullet fragment recovered from the scene was consistent with having been fired from the same ghost gun.
All four victims were acting in the course of their duties as federal officers or employees when Watson discharged his firearm at them.
Watson and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts the plea agreement, Watson will be sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis has scheduled sentencing for July 5, 2022, at 10:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the ATF and the U.S. Park Police for their work in the investigation and thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Secret Service for their assistance. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Wright, who is prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visithttps://www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-neighborhoods-psnexile and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.