Lt. Governor John Fetterman is a rising star in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party. The former mayor of Braddock was elected to statewide office in 2018 and announced his run for the U.S. Senate in 2022 just a couple of days ago. Over the years, Fetterman received a lot of positive press, both for his combative style and his left-leaning populism as mayor. The self-described Democratic Socialist has touted his support for “common sense” gun control measures, but is himself a gun owner; or at least he was back in 2013, when he chased a man who was jogging through his neighborhood.
In an unlisted two-and-a-half-minute video uploaded to YouTube Tuesday, Fetterman discussed the incident, which occurred when he was mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania.
In the video, Fetterman said that he was in his front yard with his then-4-year-old son when he heard what he believed were gunshots. He then saw a man wearing goggles and a face mask running in the direction of the local elementary school.
“I didn’t know if it was a rampage. I didn’t know if it was a drive-by. I didn’t understand. No one could know what was going on at that point, other than a large number of shots were fired from what sounded like a high-powered rifle,” Fetterman told WTAE in a 2013 interview.
Fetterman then called the police and followed the man.
Well, he didn’t just follow the man. He grabbed his shotgun first, then got in his pickup truck and began following the jogger.
While Fetterman claims he never pointed the gun at the man, the jogger has disputed the Lt. Governor’s account of the incident.
When police arrived, they searched the jogger, identified as Chris Miyares, and found no weapons.
Miyares has disputed Fetterman’s claims that he never pointed his gun at him and told reporters at the time that the gun was aimed at his chest.
“He’s trying to make it like it’s OK. I mean, he’s trying to justify what he did. I mean, you’re the mayor of Braddock in North Braddock with a shotgun,” Miyares told WTAE in 2013.
Fetterman is white and Miyares is black, which adds another component to the story. In fact, there are a lot of similarities to Fetterman’s actions and the actions of Gregory and Travis McMichael, the father and son in Georgia who are accused of chasing down Ahmaud Arbery as he was jogging through their neighborhood last February.
The big difference, of course, is that the McMichaels are now charged with murder after Travis McMichael shot Arbery with his own shotgun, while Fetterman never pulled the trigger and in fact claims that there wasn’t a round chambered in his shotgun.
In comments to Business Insider, Fetterman claims he wasn’t engaged in racial profiling, but was instead simply responding to a strange man running towards an elementary school just a short time after the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Fetterman avoided charges in the incident, and says that the residents of Braddock understood that he “did the right thing” for his community.
Whether or not that’s going to be good enough for Pennsylvania Democrats in 2022 remains to be seen. Fetterman has been elected to statewide office since then, but that was long before the death of Ahmaud Arbery became national news. The similarities between the two incidents are striking, and I think Fetterman’s going to need far more than a slickly-produced campaign video before he can put the issue to rest.
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