On a bright day in early May, Joseph Houseman, 63, was out enjoying his Second Amendment rights in Kalamazoo, Mich. As traffic went by on East Cork Street, Houseman stood at the roadside, a rifle resting on his shoulder. Witnesses called the police.
“Yes, I’d like to report something,” one man told a 911 dispatcher that day, May 4, according to audio obtained by MLive.com. “There’s an elderly man walking down the street with, it looks like to be an assault rifle. I don’t know if its a bb gun, a pellet gun, or whatnot. But, I mean, he’s older, he’s an elderly man, and I just want to be sure everything is going to be alright.”
The first calls to law enforcement came in around 4 p.m. By 4:22 p.m., 12 officers were on the scene, traffic on the street was shut down, and negotiations were turned over to Sgt. Andres Wells, a trained SWAT negotiator, according to MLive.com. The website, which obtained police reports and recordings of the ensuing 40-minute standoff, on Monday published a video portraying part of the at times tense, at times absurd events. In it, Houseman can be seen pointing and shouting at officers — and at one point he grabs his genitals and gestures in the officers’ direction.
“Folks, I need you all to go inside,” an officer can be heard telling onlookers at one point. “If that gun is live and he starts firing, everyone is at risk.”
Houseman refused to comply with requests that he put the rifle down and talk to the officers. During the negotiations, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Lt. Stacey Geik, who took over as commanding officer on the scene, told a dispatcher that Houseman was “exercising his open carry rights, however, he has certainly overextended them at this point.”
There was also talk of revolution, and gun rights, and even remorse. According to MLive.com, he was eventually convinced to put down the gun.
After Houseman had turned over the rifle, he and Geik continued to talk, because Houseman wanted to get his gun back.
“But you’re not stable mentally, which now takes you away from that rifle,” Geik said, according to MLive.com
“I’m not stable mentally? How do you decide that?” Houseman said.
“You’re damn right,” the lieutenant said. “How did this happen with open carry? What are you supposed to do when you contact law enforcement? Do you say, ‘I hate you mother(expletive), (expletive) you? I hate you, there’s a revolution coming.’ Do you say that? Is that what you’re taught?”
“It was wrong of me,” Houseman said.
The rifle was returned to him the next day, and police decided against seeking a misdemeanor charge of brandishing a firearm.