A Marine veteran’s quick thinking disarmed a potentially violent situation after rioters took two rifles from a pair of battered Seattle Police Department SUVs.
According to Q13 FOX, the veteran was working as a security for the news crew in downtown Seattle when a peaceful protest turned into a riot. The Marine saw two individuals take AR-15s from the vehicles, which were soon after set ablaze.
The veteran did not want his identity revealed, but as reported by Joshua Skovlund at Coffee or Die, was willing to share some details about that night.
“I was working and doing my job, trying to pay bills,” he told Skovlund. “I’d rather be home playing with my dog — [laughs] my wife’s dog, she would kill me if she heard that one!”
The veteran did not want to appear inconspicuous during the protest. He carried a pistol, but kept it in his bag, out of sight and out of reach of the throngs that gathered together that evening. He also wore several layers of clothing so he could easily change his appearance if needed.
The streets of Seattle had already erupted in outrage by the time the veteran and his news crew arrived. Amidst the anxiety and fears of the COVID-19 pandemic, a protest against years of systematic racism and the unjust killings of black Americans had turned to riots. This veteran had been in combat zones before, but nothing like this on American soil. Nevertheless, he followed his training and held close to his mission, protect the journalists.
“I was trying to keep them safe from anything, whether it was thrown, tossed or someone just rushing by,” he said.
The news crew set up their equipment near a pair of police vehicles that rioters had overwhelmed. The veteran sensed the situation could get much worse if any weapons were pulled out of the vehicles. He told the news crew to hide around a corner while he went back to assess the potential danger.
Stay safe, and I’ll be right back,” he said.
Soon after, he saw the first gun emerge from the damaged SUV. An individual brandished an automatic rifle and began firing.
“He was a shooter,” the veteran said. “He produced the AR-15, held it like good ol’ Rambo-style at the hip, and he fired four rounds into the police vehicle and the wall of the building.”
The veteran hid himself near the SUV, and when he saw the individual with the gun move into the open, barked an aggressive order to drop the gun.
The veteran compared the individual’s reaction to a “deer in headlights, stunned — you know, wide eyes and his hands kind of opened up. And he’s still holding the rifle. He didn’t drop it. So, [I] snatched his weapon.”
The Marine vet disarmed the rifle, removing the bolt carrier group and the charging handle, writes Skovlund, all while running back to the news crew.
It wasn’t long before another individual pulled a rifle from the other vehicle at the scene. The veteran followed the same technique to disarm this rioter. But, having disarmed two potentially explosive situations, the veteran now faced backlash from participants in the riot who then saw him as a threat.
“I had just taken a firearm from a guy that was essentially aligned with hundreds, if not thousands, of people in this area,” he said. “And I drew a line around me that said, ‘I’m not with any of you here.’”
He knew he had to get rid of the weapons. The tension continued to mount as he made his way out of the fray.
“Until I got to about three and a half blocks away where I was getting closer to the police, I had people on me, I had a horde of people on me saying all kinds of things imaginable, phones out, all that,” he said. “So there was definitely an uptick. It went from maybe 15 to 50 percent of attention because people were just looking at me like, you know, Why do you have this rifle? Everyone’s after me.”
Two of the men following the veteran and his news crew made it clear they were there to help. The veteran recalled feeling reassured by their American flag bandannas.
“[That tells me] you’re here to protest, and you’re trying to hold up American values, which I thought was excellent,” he said.
The protesters accompanied the veteran as he approached the police with the firearms. The veteran in turn warned his new friends that they might not want to follow so closely.
“They’re on high alert just as well as I was, you know?” he said. “I made it very clear what my intentions were. I listened to what they were saying, and I approached showing them exactly what I was doing.”
The police were not immediately open to the veteran’s advance. They ordered the him to stop at a distance while he explained what had happened.
“I took the bolt carrier groups and charging handles out of my back pocket,” he said. “I put them in his hand, and as his lieutenant walks up, his eyes were just kind of like, what the hell?”
As the news crew went back to cover the riots, the veteran changed clothes and put on a mask to disguise his face. He kept the journalists safe for the rest of the night.
Learn more in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.