inventory search conducted at FBI headquarters.
Upon careful consideration of the pleadings extant, the oral argument of counsel, the relevant law, and the entire record in this case, the Court agrees with the Government and finds that the Defendant's Motion shall be denied.
On October 29, 1994 at approximately 3:00 p.m., the Defendant allegedly fired numerous rounds of ammunition from a Norinco SKS semiautomatic weapon in the vicinity of the White House. A tourist tackled the Defendant as he tried to reload his weapon. Officers from the United States Secret Service then subdued the Defendant and arrested him. The Secret Service recovered the Norinco SKS semiautomatic weapon from the Defendant.
Agent Mark Marek took the Defendant into custody. Agents of the Secret Service searched him incident to arrest, recovering a wallet containing a note with the words "Hey Secret Service!" The note further advised the agents that the Defendant had parked his Chevrolet pick-up truck in the vicinity of the White House and requested that the vehicle be returned to his wife at a certain address in Colorado.
Based on the information in the note and other information in the Defendant's wallet, law enforcement officers located the truck at approximately 3:30 p.m. on the east side of 17th Street, N.W., just north of D Street. Law enforcement authorities immediately closed 17th Street, N.W., between D and E Streets, to all vehicular and civilian traffic for fear that the vehicle might contain an explosive device.
Thereafter, the agents summoned a Secret Service Explosive Detection Team (EDT) Officer to the scene, along with his specially-trained canine, "Arno." Arno swept the exterior of the vehicle to determine if it contained any explosives, but this sweep met with negative results.
Between approximately 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Secret Service Supervisory Special Agent Steve Schenk was in telephonic contact with Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Valder. A decision was made to impound the vehicle and tow it to FBI headquarters. In order to ensure that the vehicle did not contain an explosive device, however, AUSA Valder authorized bomb technicians to enter the vehicle to conduct a limited protective sweep for explosive materials, as is standard procedure following a dog sweep.
At approximately 8:00 p.m., at the direction of Secret Service Agent Steve Schenk and with AUSA Valder's approval, Metropolitan Police Department bomb technician Paul Friedlander and his assistant used the keys found on the Defendant's person incident to his arrest to enter the truck in order to inspect the vehicle for explosives. Thereafter, after conducting a standard "RSP" or "render safe procedure," Officer Friedlander declared the vehicle free of explosives.
During this inspection of the truck, the technicians observed, inter alia, one Mossberg 410 gauge shotgun, lying in the crack between the tailgate and the bed of the truck. Although the officers did not seize the gun or other materials at this time, a Secret Service technician on the scene did photograph them.
Later that evening, the truck was towed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) headquarters, at which time Special Agent Brad Garrett took custody of the vehicle.
In the meantime, agents from the Secret Service, FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) gathered information in support of a search warrant for the vehicle. Special Agent Thomas Cannon of the ATF prepared an affidavit in support of a search warrant, and submitted it to United States Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson at approximately 12:00 a.m. on October 30, 1994. The affidavit did not advise the Magistrate Judge that federal agents had already entered the truck and taken photographs of its contents.
Thereafter, on October 30, 1994, the agents maintaining custody of the vehicle at the FBI learned that a search warrant had been approved. Agent Garrett and other federal agents then searched the vehicle and seized numerous pieces of evidence. In pertinent part, the warrant authorized agents to search for:
firearms, ammunition, photographs of firearms or persons possessing firearms, receipts relating to the acquisition of any firearms or ammunition, papers showing ownership of the vehicle, roadmaps or other documents relating to travel to Washington, D.C.
See Government's Exhibit 160-1.
I. BECAUSE THE OFFICERS HAD PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THE VEHICLE CONTAINED EVIDENCE OF A CRIME, THE WARRANTLESS SEARCH WAS VALID PURSUANT TO THE "AUTOMOBILE EXCEPTION"