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May 01, 2018

Man walking around with AR-15 rifle in Abington alarms, frustrates residents

Police Guns
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A man carries an AR-15 assault rifle across his back as he walks on a street in Abington Township. He was not breaking the law, police said.

Abington police are investigating multiple reports on Monday of a man walking around with an AR-15 rifle slung over his shoulder.

The incidents alarmed a number of residents.

The man, who is known to police as a gun-rights supporter, was reportedly seen in several different areas of the township – North Hills, Ardsley, Glenside and the Abington Shopping Center – according to a letter to township residents from police Chief Patrick Molloy.


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"While this individual’s intentions are unknown, it appears that he is attempting to draw our police officers into a debate or an encounter over his 2nd amendment right to carry this weapon in public," the chief said in Monday night's letter. "All of our officers are well aware of this passive-aggressive tactic, as they have been videotaped during at least one encounter with him.

"While no laws have been broken," the chief continued, "this individual’s actions have caused unnecessary alarm to the public, thus diverting valuable police resources from our core mission."

Molloy said he understands that residents are concerned and frustrated about the actions of the individual, who was not identified or further described by police. He urged the public to resist taking any action against, or even speaking to, the man. Residents who feel their safety is threatened by the man should call 911 and an officer will be dispatched immediately, he said.

"As your Chief, I assure you that the Department’s primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our residents, and this man’s actions, while lawful, appear to serve no legitimate purpose," Molloy wrote. "Our Department will continue to balance our duty to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of this individual with our duty to provide public safety to all of our residents."

Late Tuesday morning, the Abington schools Superintendent Amy Sichel sent a letter to the school community assuring that student safety is the district's priority.

"Please know that the Abington School District is in communication with the Abington Township Police Department," Sichel wrote. "This individual has not been on any school district properties. Safety is our priority and we will follow our School Emergency Operations Plan should an individual with a weapon enter school property, for the possession of a weapon on school property is prohibited."

Abington police continue to investigate the matter, the chief said.