GREENBELT, Maryland — A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant who used his work computer in what prosecutors contend was planning for a wide-scale domestic terrorist attack was ordered held for 14 days while the government weighs additional charges in his case.
Christopher Paul Hasson, 49, of Maryland was arrested on gun and drug charges after federal law enforcement last week seized a stockpile of guns and ammunition from his basement apartment that court filings say is in Silver Spring. Prosecutors said he amassed the weapons along with other tactical supplies to prepare for a violent attack to further his white nationalist views.
“I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth,” Hasson said in one of his letters that contemplated launching a biological plague, according to court records filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland. The court filings say a draft email from June 2, 2017, with the letter was found in a “deletions” subfolder on a computer used by Hasson.
Hasson was an active duty member of the U.S. Coast Guard when he was arrested last week, Coast Guard officials said. He has been at headquarters in Washington since 2016, but no longer works for the agency, according to court filings and a Coast Guard spokesman.
In the Thursday hearing before a federal magistrate, Hasson’s federal public defender said the court filings are a “hysteric mischaracterization of Mr. Hasson,” who she said has no criminal record.
Hasson has not been charged with any terror-related counts but faces weapons and drug charges. But in court filings, officials with the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland outlined Hasson’s alleged plans for a rampage and argued Hasson should stay in jail awaiting trial.
At his detention hearing, prosecutors said Hasson spent $14,000-a-year on arms and equipment preparing for an attack and read manifestos of several mass attackers including the Unabomber and Virginia Tech shooter.
Hasson called for “focused violence” to “establish a white homeland” and developed a hit list of targets, prosecutors said in court filings. It’s unclear whether Hasson had a specific date for an attack, but the government said he had been stockpiling weapons for at least two years.
When law enforcement raided his home this month, they seized 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition from his residence in the suburbs just north of Washington.
As recently as Jan. 17, Hasson developed a list of “traitors” and targets in a spreadsheet while reviewing various broadcast news sites from his work computer, court filings show. The list included what prosecutors believe to be Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, CNN host Don Lemon and nearly two dozen others.
“The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” the government said in filings this week.
Hasson was an active duty member of the U.S. Coast Guard when he was arrested last week, Coast Guard officials said. He has been at headquarters in Washington since 2016, but no longer works for the agency, according to court filings and a Coast Guard spokesman. Hasson also served in other parts of the military. Court filings say Hasson served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993 and in the Army National Guard for about two years after that.
A Marine Corps spokeswoman, Yvonne Carlock, said Wednesday night that Hasson joined the service in December 1988, serving as an F/A-18 aircraft mechanic. His last rank in that service was corporal.
Federal authorities said he left sometime in 1993.
In June 1994, Hasson moved over to Virginia Army National Guard, becoming an infantryman with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 183rd Infantry Regiment, said Kurt Rauschenberg, a National Guard Bureau spokesman. His unit was based south of Richmond near the town of Petersburg, and no longer is active.
In September 1995, Hasson swapped to the Arizona Army National Guard, and left the service about six months later in March 1996. He left the National Guard with the same rank with which he joined.
Federal officials said the Coast Guard Investigative Services, the FBI field office in Baltimore and the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland have been probing Hasson’s activities.
Public documents do not outline what launched the investigation into Hasson, but say he modeled his plans after right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who in 2011 unleashed two attacks killed 77 people in Norway. Hasson studied Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto outlining how he planned and prepared for the Norway rampage, court filings say.
During a raid of Hasson’s apartment, law enforcement said they found more than 30 vials of what appeared to be human growth hormone. He has also ordered thousands of Tramadol pills since 2016, the government said. Breivik said in his manifesto that he had taken steroids and narcotics to help him carry out his attack in Norway, prosecutors said.
In a letter he drafted after the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Hasson said he didn’t understand the event where white supremacists clashed with those protesting them, court files show.
“I never saw a reason for mass protest or wearing uniforms marching around provoking people with swastikas etc.,” Hasson said in the letter, according to court filings. “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.”
Washington Post writers Dan Morse and Alice Crites contributed to this report.