A story in The State newspaper today underscores just how easily a tragedy can happen and why tightened security is still imperative. Ronald William Prestage, 59, was stopped this morning as he tried to enter the U. S. Capitol with a loaded 9mm handgun in his bag. This is the 2nd time in a week that someone has been caught trying to enter the Capitol with a gun.
Prestage is the president of Prestage Farms of South Carolina, LLC., and is a well-known pork and turkey lobbyist in the hallowed halls of the Capitol. Fortunately even frequent visitors are required to submit to a routine search and this is when security found the gun in Prestage’s bag. He was arrested and taken into custody by U. S. Capitol Police on charges of “carrying a pistol without a license”.
Prestage is not the usual down-on-his-luck-and-blames-the-government suspect for breaking federal laws. A resident of Camden, SC, he is a prominent and respected businessman in the community. In addition to running Prestage Farms, he is a veterinarian, staunch animal rights activist and a hog farmer. He is also the President elect of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).
The NPPC distanced itself from Prestage’s strange behavior releasing a statement saying “Prestage was not on Capitol Hill for official NPPC business” and that they had no comments on his arrest, nor guesses as to why he tried to enter the Rotunda entrance of the Capitol armed with a loaded weapon.
Last week it was actually a congressional staffer who threw the Capitol police into a state of high alert. The culprit was not a tourist who stumbled into Washington not knowing the laws. It was Ryan Shucard, 26, press secretary for GOP Rep. Tom Marino (R-Penn.). Although Shucard was caught red-handed carrying an unlicensed gun he pled “not guilty”, was released on bond, and the investigation continues.