Both police and the “mystery woman” from the Army Corps of Engineers are saying it wasn’t their idea to remove armed volunteers from Las Vegas Valley military recruiting centers.
A compilation of videos taken from the citizen guards and comments to the Review-Journal suggest police officers from Las Vegas and North Las Vegas as well as Army Corps of Engineers representative Daphne Weekly asked the men to leave the centers starting as early as July 27.
Both police and Weekly said they acted on complaints from property managers asking for the armed citizens to be removed.
“Our department is fine with you here, it’s the property management that’s taking all these phone calls,” a responding North Las Vegas officer told Josh Martin, 26, while asking him to leave the Armed Forces Recruiting Center at 445 W. Craig Road in North Las Vegas, on Aug. 3.
“We’ve got a lot of calls and complaints, yes we have,” Weekly told the Review-Journal on the phone that same day.
But property managers of the valley recruiting centers rebutted those statements, saying they received no complaints and made no such request to have the self-appointed guards removed.
The removal of the armed Las Vegans is among the first of its kind nationwide since people across the country, many of them armed, began standing at recruiting centers after a July 20 shooting at centers in Chattanooga, Tenn., that left four Marines and a Navy sailor dead. The volunteers said they took the action after learning that the recruiters are not allowed to carry firearms.
‘No calls whatsoever’
Tony Stack, 51, manages University Gardens Shopping Center, 4632 S. Maryland Parkway, where multiple citizen guards were sent home by Las Vegas police between July 28 and Aug. 3.
A video by armed volunteer Ron O’Brien, 59, shows Weekly, 51, entering a recruiting center office on Stack’s property on July 28 as Metro officers approach O’Brien, standing about a dozen feet away. The video shows a brief conversation and then officers threatening to issue O’Brien a trespassing citation, at Weekly’s request.
“She’s acting as a representative of this property, and she’s asking you guys to leave,” a Metro officer tells O’Brien in the video.
Stack, who works for the McGarey Group realty company, said neither police nor the Army Corps of Engineers contacted him about any problems on the property.
“No calls whatsoever,” he said “If anyone was complaining, we would know about it. We haven’t heard anything like that.”
In North Las Vegas, a secretary from property manager MDL Group said she was also unaware of any problems involving Martin or any other armed citizens at the recruiting center on Craig Road.
“Not that I know of,” said the secretary, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
At another recruiting center, 5625 S. Rainbow Blvd., armed citizens stood guard as recently as July 29. After over a week standing outside the center, they, too, vanished after Weekly and police circled through the valley last week.
But Ohana Realty Manager Michael Sumiyoshi, 60, who managed the property for 18 years before selling it on Aug. 3, said he hadn’t heard any complaints, either.
“I never requested that,” he said, referring to orders kicking the guards off the property he manages. “No calls.”
Metro, Corps differ
Metro spokesman Jesse Roybal said Friday the call on Maryland Parkway came from the Department of Defense, which oversees the Army Corps of Engineers.
His claim was later denied by Army Corps of Engineers spokesman George Jozens.
“That’s not our place to do,” Jozens said about the Corps’ right to remove the citizen guards. “We’re there to manage the contract for the rental.”
“Nobody from the Corps has called to have the people removed,” Jozens said.
When asked about her role in removing the volunteers, Weekly referred to a July 24 statement released by the U.S. Department of Defense, which discourages the armed guards’ presence at the centers.
The statement, posted on the doors of the three centers, states that while the department “greatly appreciates the outpouring of support” for recruiters, individuals should “not stand guard at recruiting offices.”
The volunteers object to Weekly’s interpretation, arguing that the statement does not prohibit them from being there.
“If they saw the amount of thanks people have been giving us, the handshakes, the high fives, I think they’d reconsider,” Martin said. “People inside those centers have supported us the whole time, and I know they still do.”
“It’s one thing if they don’t like it,” O’Brien said. “But there’s no legal justification at all for removing us from the property.”