A man standing guard at a military recruiting center in Lancaster, Ohio, accidentally discharged his firearm Thursday, just days after the Army ordered its recruiters to treat armed civilians as a security threat.
Christopher A. Reed, a 28-year-old with no military experience, was standing outside the Armed Services Career Center holding an AR-15 rifle when he was approached by a person who asked to see his gun. Reed, who, according to the Columbus Dispatch, is a firearms “enthusiast,” tried to clear the ammunition from his weapon before showing it off, but in the process managed to fire a round into the pavement.
Reed was charged with a misdemeanor for discharging a firearm in city limits and, along with a small group of armed civilians, ordered to leave the premises. This wasn’t his first offense of this kind: In 2013, Reed paid a $50 fine for doing the same thing. His gun was confiscated by police after Thursday’s incident, pending his appearance in court.
“It is what it is,” he told the Dispatch. “Nobody got hurt.”
The Trace sought comment from the United States Army Recruiting Command (USARC). When an information officer was notified of the incident, she said, “Oh my God.”
“We are aware of the accidental discharge that occurred today outside the Army recruiting center in Lancanster, Ohio,” the USARC said in a statement it later emailed to The Trace. “We greatly appreciate the incredible outpouring of patriotism and support for our recruiting centers across the country; however, we are concerned that having armed civilians outside our recruiting centers could cause young Americans interested in joining the Army to decide not to visit our centers.”
A volunteer-led movement to protect military installations has emerged in the wake of last week’s mass shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee. One of the installations that the shooter targeted was a recruiting center where service members are banned from carrying guns. The volunteers, who openly carry their firearms, feel as though they have stepped in to fill the void.