A sheriff’s deputy in Lucas County, Ohio found himself held at gunpoint while in uniform by some armed security guard contracted by Federal Protective Service. Deputy Alan Gaston entered the local Internal Revenue Service office concerning a question the agency had sent him. He was wearing his service firearm, which security guard Seth Eklund said was not allowed unless Gaston was there on official business. An exchange ensued, Eklund pulls his firearm on Gaston, which prompted a visit by the local police, who were surprised to see that a uniformed officer, their colleague, was the subject of the call. The incident occurred in May of 2019 (via WaPo)
…Gaston, was a high-ranking officer in the Lucas County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Department with 34 years of experience. The other was a security guard contracted to protect an Internal Revenue Service office in Toledo.
But then the guard pulled his gun. He raised his voice. He put a hand on Gaston’s arm and rested his finger on the trigger. In a matter of seconds, what began with a routine errand at the IRS escalated into a frightening standoff between a white security guard and a black police officer, who said he heard hate in the guard’s shouts and believed he would be shot.
“You don’t expect to be ambushed by someone who you think is on the same team,” Gaston told The Washington Post. “I feel there was definitely some racial overtones involved. And I’m not the type of person to throw the race card; I’m just telling you the facts. I looked in his eyes, and I saw hate in his eyes.”
Gaston had stopped by the IRS office during his shift on May 31 to ask a question about a letter the agency sent him. He was in full uniform, his badge and his firearm in clear view. The security guard, identified in court documents as Seth Eklund, asked Gaston to leave his gun in his patrol car. When Gaston replied he couldn’t do that, he said Eklund became hostile. Eklund accused Gaston of reaching for his weapon, shouting “get your hands off your gun,” even though Gaston said his hands were visible and nowhere near his holster.
Gaston, who has years of experience teaching defensive tactics, decided it was time for him to leave. He recalled a wide-eyed elderly couple in the office waiting room watching the exchange, and he said he feared for the bystanders’ safety. Gaston turned to go. As he walked out of the cramped office, Eklund drew his gun, trained it on Gaston’s back and followed him. At one point, Gaston said, Eklund tried to arrest the uniformed officer.
“He came around the corner with his weapon out, telling me, ‘you had your chance, you’re not going anywhere, I’m detaining you,’ ” Gaston said. “That’s when I was preparing myself to be shot. The hate and anger he had against me, I was getting ready to be shot by this security guard for no reason.”
The bodycam footage was released earlier this month, showing officers absolutely shocked by the nature of the call. One said he was expecting a black male in civilian clothes. According to him, there was no specific information given about the alleged suspect, Gaston, that would have indicated that they were answering a 9-1-1 call about a uniformed police officer. The Post added that Toledo police told Eklund that a uniformed police officer can go wherever he wants. One officer calls Eklund a “boob” who probably shouldn't be employed in this position overdue to this apparent lack of common sense. Eklund is heard in the video trying to leave the scene, saying that he cannot leave his post per his mandate with the Federal Protective Service. Local police inform him that a) his post is literally a few feet away from the elevator area where several police officers are currently congregating trying to assess and figure out what happened. The office is secure. Second, he couldn’t leave. I didn’t detect racial animus viewing the footage. Eklund seems calm in the tone of his voice, but we weren’t there.
Regardless, the lack of judgment was factored in here, as The Toledo Blade reported in July, that Eklund had been fired:
The Toledo police officers’ confusion about the call is evident on the bodycam video.
Responding to Mr. Eklund’s claims that law enforcement officers cannot carry their weapons in the building unless acting in an official capacity, an officer asks him: “Even if he’s an officer?”
“You’re not allowed to have your weapon on federal property,” Mr. Eklund responds.
“Even us?” a second officer asks.
“Even you, unless you’re here on official business,” Mr. Eklund says.
Who is right?
The U.S. General Services Administration, which sets the rules and regulations governing conduct on federal property, says: “Federal law prohibits the possession of firearms or other dangerous weapons in Federal facilities and Federal court facilities by all persons not specifically authorized by Title 18, United States Code, Section 930. Violators will be subject to fine and/or imprisonment for periods up to five (5) years.”
Who is “specifically authorized” to possess firearms in federal buildings? Federal, state and municipal law enforcement officers in the “lawful performance of official duties,” federal officials and armed forces, and everyone else “incident to hunting or other lawful purposes.”
Mr. Eklund was reportedly terminated, and is facing two counts of aggravated menacing. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for pretrial Aug. 26 in Toledo Municipal Court.
Deputy Gaston has not been charged related to the incident.
You decide? But one of the officers is heard saying that in 13 years on the force, he’s never had an incident where a security guard pulled a gun on a uniformed police officer.