Pennsylvania Police have taken an Abington Township resident into custody after he was spotted on Monday and Friday carrying an AR-15 on his back in public while walking the neighborhood streets. The unknown male was picked up on an involuntary mental health warrant and brought to a facility in Norristown for evaluation.
Police also confiscated the rifle that the man reportedly toted around in an attempt to exercise his 2nd Amendment rights while taunting police, a tactic the Pennsylvania police are familiar with.
The man was seen walking in Pennsylvania's North Hills, Ardsley, Glenside, as well as the Abington Shopping Center.
The man's strange behavior was reported to the police by several of his friends who recently grew concerned when the man began acting out of character. In fear of the man harming others or himself, the friends notified police through their Facebook page.
The Pennsylvania Police were able to take the man into custody safely and obtain a search warrant. Although Pennsylvania has open carry laws for licensed gun owners, the man's strange behaivor is what caused police to act.
"Additional information was received which warranted steps to be taken for his safety and the safety of all of our citizens,” stated Chief Patrick Molloy of The Abington Township police department.
"This case illustrates the very complex nature of balancing an individual's 2nd Amendment rights with our primary mission to protect and serve all of our citizens," the department said Friday.
With school shootings around the United States becoming all too common, Molloy and officers wanted to take every precaution.
“I imagine in this environment where we’ve had a number of school shootings, a young man walking in the streets with an AR-15, it conjured up images of carnage,” said Molloy. “We can’t afford to get this wrong… we’re trying to balance the rights of our citizens with public safety and it’s really difficult.”
While conducting the search warrant and talking with friends of the unknown man who has not been charged, police discovered that he spoke about shooting up the Abington High School in June 2017 and Penn State Abington in January.
Friends of the man also shared that they received suicidal messages from the individual. Searches on his cell phone confirmed that he could have potentially been plotting a shooting as he was looking for “what guns were used in mass shootings,” “sandyhook,” and “how many mass shooters have fatherless homes."
Following the scary incident, Chief Molloy reached out to residents on Friday, assuring them that the Abington Township police department’s primary focus is the safety and well-being of the community while clearing up a number of rumors that began to circulate in regards to the concerning incident.