Authorities said Peter Nathan Steinmetz pointed the weapon at a
terrified woman and her daughter on July 25, after striding around
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with the weapon slung over
On Monday, Steinmetz spoke publicly about the incident for the first
"Put simply, I decided to make the point that a peaceful citizen can
openly and responsibly carry a firearm - including an AR-15 - for
the protection of themselves and their community," Steinmetz said in
a statement read to reporters.He maintained that he was not pointing
the gun at anyone at the airport and is "an educated and responsible
gun owner" who had the safety on at the time.
Steinmetz, who was arrested but not charged over the incident, said
he was asserting his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms
and not endangering anyone.
He told a news conference he believed the airport was a good place
to make such a statement, lashing out at the Transportation Security
Administration as an agency that "disarms people and subjects them
to gross invasions of their privacy".
But authorities said the 54-year-old researcher crossed the line
when he carried the loaded weapon into the airport’s busiest
terminal and pointed it in the direction of the mother and her
Police detained Steinmetz, who works at Phoenix's Barrow
Neurological Institute. He told them he was getting coffee and had
no other reason to be at the airport.
Steinmetz was booked into jail on suspicion of two felony counts of
disorderly conduct with a weapon over the incident. A spokesman for
the county attorney said on Monday the case was returned to police
for further investigation.
[to top of second column]
The arrest was not Steinmetz's first weapons-related brush with
police, said Sergeant Steve Martos, a Phoenix police spokesman.
Last November, Steinmetz was questioned while going to the airport
armed to pick up his wife, Martos said. Steinmetz's minor son was
also armed, though neither was cited at the time, Martos said.
Hospital officials placed Steinmetz on administrative leave
following the incident.
(This story has been filed to remove extraneous word from byline)
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Clarence Fernandez)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.