April 26, 2010

Wannabe Cop, Wannabe Assassin?

Sunday afternoon law enforcement officers arrested an armed Ohio man who said he wanted to meet President Obama. Was this a poorly-organized murder plot?

An armed man spotted at a North Carolina airport parking lot just after Air Force One departed Sunday told an officer he wanted to see the president and had a car equipped with police gear, including a siren and flashing lights, authorities said.

Joseph Sean McVey, 23, of Coshocton, Ohio, is charged with going armed in terror of the public, a misdemeanor, said Asheville Regional Airport Police Capt. Kevan Smith.

Security was heightened at the airport because President Barack Obama was leaving after spending the weekend vacationing in Asheville. He was headed to a memorial service for 29 West Virginia coal miners killed in an explosion.

At about 2 p.m., airport police saw McVey get out of a maroon car with Ohio plates and that he had a sidearm, Smith said. Both airport police and the Secret Service questioned him and he was taken into custody. The suspect was nowhere near the president's plane, which had just departed, and was in a rental car return lot that is open to the public, Smith said.

His car was equipped with clear LED law enforcement-style strobe lights in the front and rear dash, Smith said. The car also had a mounted digital camera in the front window, four large antennas on the trunk lid, and under the steering wheel was a working siren box. Smith said McVey was not in law enforcement.

"Going armed in terror of the public" is a bizarre and quite frankly idiotic North Carolina law. It is legal to carry a weapon openly on your hip in North Carolina, until it scares someone. If someone complains, or feels threatened for any reason at all (even if the person carrying the gun is making no threatening mannerisms or gestures) then cops can charge the otherwise legal gun carrier with going armed in terror of the public.

It is a stupid law, and the only law that I aware of that converts an otherwise legal activity into a crime based upon a third party's irrational fears instead of criminal behavior. North Carolinians have been trying to repeal this law for years, but a gun-hating Raleigh Democrat has bottled up in committee in the state legislature.

Anyway, going armed in terror of the public is a odd law to bring against a potential assassin, so the most rational explanation for it is that cops wanted a reason to hold on to him so that they can further investigate McVey's background and determine how much of a threat he might be, or if he even is a serious threat.

I'm not sure what the laws are regarding impersonating police officers, or if McVey ran afoul of other firearms laws, but I imagine we'll her more later today.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 26, 2010 07:25 AM

Maybe they just thought his name sounded like a white, right-wing terrorist.

Hey, who's the gun-hating Raleigh Dem?

Posted by: rivlax at April 26, 2010 08:23 AM

Bob, GATTTOTP a common law crime that goes all the way back to the thirteenth century. We just happen to be one of the few states that still recognize it. Contrary to popular belief, it's not a "nervous nelly" crime -- you have to be doing something that a reasonable person under the circumstances would consider directly threatening, like waving a gun around and screaming that you're gonna shoot the next gov't SOB you see. It doesn't sound like anything this guy did was per se illegal unless he directly represented himself as a peace officer. I'd think that he'll probably walk if he gets a decent lawyer.

I will send you some more info by email.

Posted by: Joe Hooker at April 26, 2010 09:13 PM