October 23, 2013

Assault rifle carrier: Portland police got it wrong

Carlos Reed says a class project in which he planned a fake terrorist attack got him in trouble.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

When police started probing the background of Carlos Reed, who was found walking in Portland at 1 a.m. with an assault rifle and body armor, they found his Facebook page showing a college class project about a terrorist attack at Hadlock Field.

click image to enlarge

Carlos Reed says he never would have carried an assault rifle in public had he known how much trouble it would cause him.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Carlos Reed speaks with a reporter Monday at his Portland apartment. He says he posed no threat while carrying an assault rifle during a walk in Portland in September.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The project for his Introduction to Homeland Security class described how he and two other terrorists, bent on revenge and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, would set off a roadside bomb near an oil storage facility in South Portland. As police and firefighters responded, a sniper would fire on baseball fans at a Sea Dogs game from across Interstate 295.

Police submitted the image and other material to the District Attorney’s Office, which obtained an arrest warrant for Reed on a charge of a threatening display of a weapon. The image appeared in his court file, which was created after he was charged and after authorities sought to have him hospitalized involuntarily as a danger to himself or others.

Reed, 27, says it shows how police took things out of context or exaggerated to support their view that he is a threat.

“They’re trying to make me out to be some kind of terrorist because of a project I did,” Reed said last week, after he was released from jail and police held a press conference to warn the public about him. “Their belief is my carrying the weapon is a dry run for a fictional terrorist attack, which is unrealistic and absurd.”

Everyone in the law enforcement class at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland had to do the same exercise: devise a terrorist attack and then discuss the law enforcement response to it. Reed, who was a law enforcement student in 2012 and 2013, got an A+.

He is no longer enrolled, having missed two weeks of school because of his legal troubles. He said the school refunded his tuition and said he is welcome to reapply in the future.

Police say their concerns weren’t based on the terrorism scenario but on Reed’s conduct Sept. 27, which supports the decision to charge him and issue the warning about him.

Reed was stopped at 1 a.m., walking near Woodfords Corner while wearing camouflage body armor and carrying an assault rifle, with 120 rounds of ammunition and a handgun strapped to his ankle. He later said he was in training and asserted his Second Amendment right to carry his guns in public.

“These are things that should cause people to be a little alarmed,” said Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch. “It’s one in the morning, I don’t see anybody else out on military training missions armed like that. This is not behavior that’s typical, and his rationale for it is far from typical.”

Malloch said police wanted to warn the public not to approach Reed and to alert police if they saw him walking armed. Police did not intend to frighten the public, he said.

TERRORIST EXERCISE NOT UNCOMMON

David Hosie, who taught the Introduction to Homeland Security class at SMCC last semester, said he would not discuss individual students because of privacy requirements, but he said the exercise has value.

“I tell them to put their ‘terrorist’ hat on,” he said. Students are told to develop a scenario that includes the essential elements of a terrorist attack: motive, opportunity and means.

Designing such scenarios and analyzing law enforcement’s response are standard training in homeland security operations, said Hosie, who supervised training for the Transportation Security Administration in Portland for 10 years.

In class, students present their scenarios – some are cyber attacks, some have no casualties – during a PowerPoint presentation that lasts about 15 minutes. The class brainstorms what the law enforcement response should be, he said.

(Continued on page 2)

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