Fairfax, Virginia, resident and open-carry advocate Robert Dickens heard the police siren and saw the lights, so he very carefully stopped his motorcycle, locked his hands on his head and calmly waited for instructions.
He said yes when an officer asked if he could remove a handgun from a holster Dickens was wearing. He gave the same answer when the officer asked to take temporary custody of a pocketknife he had in his pocket.
In the end, he’s thankful he’s still alive after an up-close and personal encounter with “swatting,’ the practice of making a false report of an on-going critical incident to prompt an emergency response.
“Wow, I could have been killed!” he wrote in a report on the Bearing Arms website of an October incident in which officers from many police units suddenly pulled up around him while he was riding his motorcycle home from a couple of errands.
Such swatting incidents are becoming more common. They started out with Internet gamers who would hide behind online personas and anonymous names to report that their gaming opponent had a gun or had taken hostages.
The response often is a full-scale SWAT team at the location, with guns drawn and military vehicles at the ready. It’s even happened to actor Clint Eastwood.
But its danger turned from theory to tragedy over the summer when John Crawford III was gunned down in a Beavercreek, Ohio, store after being swatted by a caller who claimed Crawford was loading and pointing an assault rifle at customers in Walmart.
Actually, Crawford was merely holding a BB gun that the store sells. But Crawford died when officers fired on him, and another shopper suffered a heart attack and died after the police opened fire, the report said.
The Bearing Arms website said the activity is “a favored tactic” of gun-control supporters.
For example, from the Facebook page of Moms Demand Action, a group that tries to push retailers into public statements of opposition to guns, a Jennifer Decker wrote, “Every time I see someone with a gun in a store I will call 911 … because I feel threatened, they’ll get tired of that right quick!!!”
Added Alan Crammatte, “Call the police and say you feel threatened by a man with a gun.”
The Bearing Arms report had the details of Dickens’ ordeal.
He explained he ran some errands that day, at 7-11 and a Verizon store. Then he was pulled over.
“Now I’m thinking that I’ve got my pistol on me and I’m asking myself how I would feel if I were an officer pulling over someone who was armed,” he wrote. “OK, turn the bike off, straddle the bike, interlock your hands on your head, and be calm.”
Eventually, he found out a known “swatter” had called police on him.
Reported Bearing Arms: “Unfortunately, the individual in question – like many supporters of gun control – is thought to be mentally ill. The [police department] has a difficult time pursuing a criminal SWAT-ting case against the caller because they can’t prove criminal intent.”
Written by BOB UNRUH
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