National Guardsman and Iraq veteran Billy Alemar was arrested in Martinsburg, West Virginia after he was spotted running “near a school” in full battle rattle, to include an airsoft rifle.
According to the police report, police intercepted Alemar after he was spotted “near” a school running with his gear on. I put “near” in quotes because it is unclear from the report how far he actually was and since I am not familiar with the terrain I can not asses if he was right across the front lawn or 1,000m away.
When police responded they ordered him to the ground at gun point because he had on his chest what appeared to be an “assault rifle” – well an assault rifle with an orange tip on the end of it, also known as an airsoft rifle to the casual observer. For those that don’t know, airsoft rifles fire dangerous yellow plastic balls at blistering speeds of 300 fps and are commonly seen in the hands of 12 year-olds as a form of recreation.
Also on his possession was the desert uniform he was wearing and his ballistic vest complete with ceramic plates – which the police noted were for increased protection against bullets, clearly letting us know just how dangerous a situation this was.
After the police apprehended this soldier they asked him what he was doing – he said he was just going for a run, clearly police felt otherwise as they searched his home for explosives, none were found but shockingly they did discover more military gear (an oddity for a current member of the National Guard) as well as an airsoft pistol (which also fires the deadly plastic balls at 200-300 fps).
Already groups are popping up on Facebook in support of Alemar – From there people have begun online petitions calling for Alemar’s release.
Details at this point are still murky at best – what is clear is that there is no room for National Guard soldiers to train on their own time in Martinsburg, West Virginia. This could have been handled differently and should have been – when police responded and saw the orange tip on the airsoft rifle perhaps it wasn’t necessary for them to draw down on this kid, perhaps when he identified himself as an infantryman with the National Guard they could have called it in as just a misunderstanding and told the kid he alarmed people and to not go for runs in full-gear. Perhaps the judge that set bond could have extended a little leniency at the bond hearing and exhibited a little professional courtesy for someone that has served this nation overseas and is continuing to serve.
Perhaps those are just my thoughts but we will be following this and add updates to those interested in this case.
Just to be clear about a few things – yes, we agree that running with an airsoft rifle is not a smart thing to do, is it illegal however? That is the point of the arguemnt against the legal action that has been taken against him. Regardless if an airsoft rifle looks like a real rifle it isn’t a real rifle, it is not a firearm and therefor shouldn’t be treated by such when someone is simply carrying one down the street. Also, if you feel inclined to show your support for this soldier please do so in a manner that is professional and do NOT contact the police department that is handling this case and DO NOT make ANY type of threat, voiced, typed or otherwise, in regards to this or any story.
We are receiving word from several of you on our Facebook page that the arresting officer was actually a PSG that knows Alemar. If this is true it raises a slew of other questions and is equally disturbing that someone who is in a position where he is expected to square away soldiers thinks that this is doing just that.
According to this article this soldier was intoxicated at the time of the arrest as well as offering some more insight into the police motivation for the charges filed and the penalties that they carry if he is convicted. This AIn’t Hell also did a write-up on this story.