An on-camera stunt apparently designed to make a point about civil liberties ended in the arrest of two men Sunday.
Police in Dearborn, MI, said they charged the men with breach of peace after they walked into a police station wearing tactical vests, one of them carrying an AP-14 firearm and a handgun.
Police confronted the men, later identified by authorities as James Craig Baker and Brandon Brent Vreeland. They initially refused to comply with the officers’ commands, authorities said.
In the encounter, which the men streamed live, police were heard giving commands to put the guns down and step back. One man was heard telling police they weren’t breaking any laws.
As an open carry state, Michigan allows licensed gun owners to carry a firearm in public so long as it is not concealed.
Officials said Baker, 24, of Leonard, MI, was armed with the two firearms. He has been charged with breach of peace, masks/disguises while parading, and failure to cooperate during booking proceedings.
Authorities said Vreeland, of Jackson, MI, was carrying the camera and a tripod. He been charged with breach of peace, failure to obey police officer’s direction or order, and resisting an officer’s demands. All of the charges are misdemeanors.
Both men were released on $1,500 bond pending a Feb. 24 court date, according to police and court records.
Baker declined comment to CNN on Tuesday before consulting with his attorney.
By the time it was all over, police, who appeared to show restraint, seized guns, ammunition, body armor and ballistic vests, authorities said. In all they recovered four guns, including the loaded AP-14 firearm and a loaded Glock 19 handgun, authorities said. It wasn’t immediately clear where the other two weapons were recovered from.
‘You walked into a police department loaded’
Dearborn police said they first encountered the pair early Sunday afternoon when officers went to a shopping district to investigate a report of two suspicious men in a vehicle wearing tactical masks. The men left the area before police arrived.
A short time later, a Dearborn sergeant on patrol spotted the two men in their vehicle at a nearby park. The sergeant conducted a traffic stop and found that the men were dressed in tactical vests. The passenger, who was wearing a mask that covered his face, refused to speak to police, authorities said.
The sergeant let the two go after a brief preliminary investigation. But the pair wasn’t done with police.
Police said the two then drove to the station; that’s when the video shows the men walking into the station.
“So, we’re here outside Dearborn police station,” one of the men, who is masked, says to the camera. “We’re going to go in and file a complaint because we were illegally pulled over about an hour ago.”
“That’s 100% accurate,” the other man, who is not wearing a mask, responds.
“We felt a little afraid for our lives when we were pulled over, so we figured we’d better protect ourselves,” says the man in the mask, who has a gun around his neck.
As the men entered the station, police immediately issued commands.
“Dude, put that on the ground,” a voice can be heard saying.
The video appears to show officers pointing their guns at the men.
The camera seems to drop to the ground. The video cuts out while the audio continues.
“Put it on the ground or you are dead,” a voice can be heard yelling.
“I will put a round in you, sir,” a voice yelled.
One of the men is heard saying he will remove the rifle from around his neck.
“Put it down, barrel down, set it down, step back. You’re carrying a sidearm as well,” one voice yells.
“It’s all legal, sir,” one man says.
At another point, a voice can be heard saying; “You walked into a police department loaded, okay. How stupid is that?”
Gun rights group denounces stunt
Dearborn police and a local open carry rights gun group have criticized the men for their actions.
“I find this behavior totally unacceptable and irresponsible. This is not a Second Amendment issue for me,” Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said in a press release. “We had members of the public in our lobby that fled in fear for their safety as these men entered our building.”
Michigan Open Carry Inc., said it “in no way supports the actions of these individuals.”
The group said it advocates for and educates individuals about their legal right to openly carry a holstered handgun for protection.
“There is a clear difference between the everyday protection we advocate for and the attention seeking actions of these individuals. Wearing a mask, dark glasses, visible body armor, and a rifle slung across your chest instills a very specific image that cannot be ignored.”
“Like it or not, exercising your rights is not black and white. How you act and portray yourself is a big part of advocacy. I believe these gentlemen failed in this regard,” Michigan Open Carry president Tom Lambert said in a statement.