This young man is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
The North Bend High School was put under lock down briefly after a man with a rifle was seen walking toward the building Tuesday morning.
Police Chief Robert Kappelman said the man was carrying the uncased weapon in the ready position about 11 a.m. while walking past the city swimming pool, causing generalized panic in the neighborhood and numerous calls to 911.
Police stopped and took into custody George L. Watson, 19, of North Bend.
“The ready position is one hand on the forearm stock and the other on the rear stock,” said North Bend Police Chief Robert Kappelman. “You don’t carry a gun like that unless you’re going to use it. To those who saw him, it looked like all he had to do was take aim and fire.”
Watson told police that he was headed to a friend’s house to show him the Ruger Blackhawk Elite Air Rifle. Though police took steps to determine if this was true, Watson is still being charged with disorderly conduct II, a class B misdemeanor and is being referred to the District Attorney’s Office.
“He is being charged because he was carrying an exposed rifle in the way that he was and in the location that he was,” Kappelman said. “If someone with a gun in a side holster was walking near the school, there wouldn’t have been much concern. But from a distance. that model of air rifle looks like a real gun. Until an officer has it to inspect, there’s no way they would have known that it wasn’t, especially the way he was holding it.”
Watson explained to officers he didn’t realize holding the rifle that way would create panic. Kappelman said he isn’t sure he is telling the truth, but that there is no indication of mental illness.
Carrying an air rifle that closely mimics the looks of a hunting rifle near a school in what sounds like either a low ready or high port position—either of which would enable to bring a rifle to bear in a single smooth movement—is of course going to generate 911 calls when you go traipsing down the sidewall near a high school.
Fortunately, this incident ended without bloodshed.
I’m hoping that the district attorney will have some pity on this rather short-sighted young man so that he can avoid a criminal record, and work out a deal that drops the charges entirely. I rather doubt Mr. Watson meant to cause alarm, and appears to have simply been oblivious to how he appeared to the public at large.