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

(Continued from page 1)

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

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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

When Reed was stopped on Sept. 27, he said he had the Second Amendment right to carry his weapons in the city. Later, he said in class that he was going to do it again to assert those rights.

But after his legal ordeal, Reed said Monday that he doesn’t want to champion the gun rights movement.

Asked whether he regrets what he did, he said, “Oh God yeah. ... If I had an inkling of the level of reaction this would cause, I would have been just as happy to stay at home or go jogging without (guns) ... I’m not that principled.”

ARREST WAS A SURPRISE

His said his ordeal started in earnest with his arrest on Oct. 5 in Lebanon.

He was in town to go skydiving when his path to Skydive New England was blocked by two cars. Another car pulled up with blue lights. He said he thought maybe he had run a stop sign.

“I didn’t even put the two together,” he said of his encounter with Portland police a week earlier. Police were pointing assault weapons, shotguns and handguns at him, he said.

“There are people coming out of the woods. This is terrifying,” he recalled. “I’ve never had loaded guns pointed at me. It’s kind of scary.”

Reed served in the Army for 4½ years, including 15 months in Iraq, but didn’t serve in combat, he said. He was assigned to a unit that guarded detainees.

Reed was taken to jail after his arrest, then to the Togus veterans hospital. At a nearby facility, a hearing was held to determine whether he was a danger, he said. Authorities brought up every painful thing that had happened in his life, material taken from conversations he had had with a counselor while he was in the service, he said.

Police would not discuss any of the mental health proceedings, citing confidentiality laws.

Reed said his words were taken out of context.

Before his arrest, a doctor called to ask if he had any more weapons, and he replied “piles.”

He said he was being sarcastic. At the time, he had one shotgun and three handguns, one of them a World War II Russian service weapon.

Most, he said, have never been fired. He likes them because they are interesting and hold their value, he said.

Police said Reed described his late-night outing as training for a military mission, but Reed said he never described it that way. He said he hikes with his gear to maintain his conditioning and muscle memory.

“Next thing you know I’m ‘on a mission,’ ” he said.

He said he brought a pistol to secure his rifle, in case somebody tried to take it.

Because of his arrest, he said, finding work is impossible.

“The manager of McDonald’s wouldn’t want to hire me because I’m way too much of a liability,” he said.

FRIENDS HAVE OFFERED SUPPORT

Reed said he has had no problems with police since his release from the Cumberland County Jail on Friday, though they do make sure he abides by bail conditions that prohibit him from having guns and require he be home between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Reed said his friends’ reaction has been positive. One even baked him cookies.

Louis Pete, who runs a game store on Forest Avenue, said Reed is a nice guy.

“He’s respectful, cordial. He gets along with everyone here,” Pete said. “Am I a good judge of character? I think I’m pretty good. Is he a threat.? I don’t think he is.”

That said, Pete disapproves of Reed’s late-night weapons walk. “Even though you have a right to do it, you don’t do it,” he said.

Jeff Weinstein, president of the Maine Gun Owners Association, said there may be Second Amendment issues but police have to make judgment calls.

“People do have the right to open-carry in the state of Maine, however if somebody goes beyond the line of carrying peacefully and either implies or does in fact threaten somebody, that’s another whole criminal issue,” Weinstein said.

Larry Siegel, a professor of criminology at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, said society accepts a certain amount of risk when it comes to guns, just as with cars.

He said the Second Amendment rights must be weighed against public well being.

“You have a right to feel safe. I have a right to feel safe,” Siegel said. “Just to prove some constitutional point, it’s totally inappropriate to scare average citizens and ... police.”

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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