William Fulton, who heads up the security firm DropZone, told TPM today that since he and his employees detained and handcuffed a journalist at Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller’s town hall yesterday, he’s received death threat messages, and others that have disparaged him and his agency as Miller’s “hired goons.”
“This was something that is quite common,” Fulton said. “This guy got violent and we put him into cuffs.”Fulton, who brought two other guards from DropZone to the event, stressed that “we didn’t know the guy was a reporter until after we told him he was trespassing.” Fulton claimed he didn’t see any press credentials on the Alaska Dispatch‘s Tony Hopfinger, unlike other members of the media who had them visible.
“The guy just rushes [Miller], gets right up into his face. I don’t know if he bumped into him at that point or not, but it was enough to make us worry,” according to Fulton. So they “stepped in between him and Joe and told him, “Hey, you need to leave,” but Hopfinger “started bumping up against us pretty hard, trying to get at Joe,” and even shoved someone into a locker. At that point they detained him, and Fulton called the police.
Hopfinger, for his part, told KTUU that “Miller’s security team pushed him and he pushed back because he felt his personal space was being invaded.”
“At that point suddenly I was surrounded by more guys, more security guards I guess,” Hopfinger said. “They were kind of putting their chest into me, and at one point I put my chest in too…it got to be too much.”
“We’re not security guards,” Fulton said, but there are “certain things we’re allowed to do” under Alaska law.
That includes conducting “private persons arrest, which is commonly called a citizens arrest,” according to Lt. Dave Parker, Public Information Officer for the Anchorage PD, which he confirmed is what happened yesterday. Parker also noted that even though the event took place at a public school, it had been rented for private purposes.
Fulton reiterated this, and added that the school district had required Miller to hire security for the event.
In addition to private security, DropZone, which only employs veterans, is also a bail bond agency and an army surplus store.
“We gave the guy more leeway because of the type of event it was than we normally would have given him,” Fulton said.
Hopfinger did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.