A man who was seen carrying an AR-15 while walking around town in Pennsylvania had his gun confiscated and was taken into custody for an involuntary mental health evaluation after friends told police he could be dangerous or suicidal, KYW-TV reported.
The police had previously released a statement assuring concerned residents of Abington Township that they were aware of the man, calling his legal open carrying of the rifle "unnecessary."
What's the story?
Abington police, after initially acknowledging that the man was free to exercise his Second Amendment rights, said that three of the man's friends came to them with information that indicated that he could be a danger to himself or others.
According to the search warrants the police executed at the man's home, he told friends in June 2017 and January that he wanted to shoot up some local schools. The friends also said the man had sent suicidal messages in the past.
Police records say an examination of the man's internet search history included "what guns were used in mass shootings," "Sandyhook," and "how many mass shooters have fatherless homes."
Authorities took the AR-15 and two fully loaded magazines from the man's home, and took the man to a mental health facility for evaluation.
A hearing pursuant to the Mental Health Procedures Act will determine whether the man is committed for up to an additional 20 days. He is not being charged with any crimes at this time.
Police statement on gun rights
Abington Police Chief Patrick Molloy wanted it to be clear to residents that his department was still fully in support of Second Amendment rights and the state's open carry laws.
"We cannot, and will not, take citizens into custody merely for exercising their constitutional right to bear arms," Molloy wrote. "We have no desire to do so, no right to do so, and we did not do so here.
"On the other hand, when the totality of the circumstances leads us to believe that this community's safety could possibly be in jeopardy or a young man is troubled and/or in need of assistance, we cannot, and will not sit idly by. This, the constitution does not require, and our oath of office will not allow."
People first began seeing the man walking around with his gun on April 27, and again on April 30 near a local Target. Police are not identifying the man.