An Account of the (Toy) Gunman Who Inadvertently Put the George W. Bush Presidential Center on Lockdown

Categories: Guns

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Last Saturday, the folks taking in the new George W. Bush Presidential Center were briefly under the frightening misimpression that it had come under terrorist attack, as reports of an "active shooter" put the center and SMU on lockdown.

Among the visitors were Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower and Going Clear, and Stephen Harrigan, a novelist and Texas Monthly regular. According to Harrigan's account posted yesterday on TM's website, folks prayed, weeped, fainted, ducked behind pillars and huddled on the floor, waiting for shots to ring out. The bombings in Boston and images of methodical men clearing room after room with assault weapons must have been emblazoned in their minds. Here they were, inside a monument to a president who had waged simultaneous war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"For me, at least, there was no sense of surprise, no sense of unfairness," Harrigan writes. "The Bush presidential museum seemed a natural enough place for somebody to target ..."

Of course, the threat proved illusory. But it's nonetheless a fascinating account of terror in the age of Bush's War on Terror. What's even more interesting, though, is the juxtaposition you find in the comment section -- the other side to this non-story story.

Someone named Robin Carr writes a lengthy, detail-rich narrative of the crisis from outside the library, whose particulars match the brief sketch sent to me by SMU police. And at the center of it all? Her husband, who was apparently smoking outside, holding his boy's toy six-shooter. I left a message at a number I believe is Carr's, and I'll update if I hear from her.

According to her account, she, her husband and their 10-year-old son left San Antonio on a guided tour of various Texas attractions. Their first stop was the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco. The boy persuaded his parents to buy him an over-priced toy pistol with a bright orange safety cap at the end. He loved his gun, as little boys do, and engaged imaginary foes in shootouts for the rest of the afternoon.

This continued when they arrived at the Bush Center. In fact, he was much more interested in his gun than he was in 43's interactive "Decision Points:" The Game. The boy continued to wage deadly duels while Carr browsed the center and her husband smoked and watched their son. At some point, the boy needed to use the restroom in the museum, and left his gun with his father because he could not bring it with him. Her husband, Carr writes, told her that he was approached by two separate security guards. The second asked if the gun he held was a cap gun. He said it was, and the security guard called the police. Later, she writes, they'd be told that bystanders saw the pistol in his lap and notified security. At 2:53 that afternoon, police were pointing real guns at his face, ordering him to the ground.

"My son, who has come back, is screaming that it is a toy and his father was holding it for him," she writes. "Meanwhile, a young, immature, and overly zealous policeman gets on top of my husband with his knee in my husband back and places handcuffs on him."

Meanwhile, inside the Bush Center, Carr is lined up against a wall with the rest of the fearful attendees. "However, less than 5 minutes later, the threat is over and I hear someone say that it is just a little boy with a toy gun. Automatically, I realize what has happened and I try to call my husband to find out what is going on. The phone rings a couple of times and finally a strange voice answers and tells me that he is a police man and they are questioning my husband. I immediately tell him that the gun is a toy and I had just bought it for my son. He asked me if I have the receipt and I say yes and I will bring it."

She called the police twice more, only to be told that they would contact her in due course. After two hours, campus police released Carr's husband. She says that a supervising officer promised to mail her the boy's toy gun. "...I simply reply that they can destroy it for all that I care."

You can find an entry on the SMU police website for the story of the toy gun, which paralyzed a presidential library and an entire campus with mortal fear, if only briefly. The incident is listed as "Disorderly Conduct."

"Officers responded to this location to a report of a man with a gun. It was later determined to be a toy gun. Closed."


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21 comments
ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

so the W is a gun free zone??  he implemented CHL in TX; invaded a country on a lie.  Has armed people all around him every day.....  fracking incongruous.

mcdallas
mcdallas topcommenter

I sure hope that gun didn't say "don't tread on me" or anything else patriotic.  If it did, the parents are now likely subject to an IRS audit.  

Meanwhile, Brantley is likely being wiretapped because of his connection.

.357
.357

Brantley, it is Obama's War on Terror now, not Bush's, and it has been for four years. Get used to it.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

This war of terror sure has me terrified. We bend over for this abuse and official oppression. . And call for more law and order. And cry government abuse at the same time. This country is alredy lost.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Bush Cheney Rove and the rest all belong in jail. Forever.

They have destroyed this country.

observist
observist topcommenter

"The second asked if the gun he held was a cap gun. He said it was, and the security guard called the police."  

Huh?  He called the police to report a cap gun?  And the police, responding to a report of a cap gun, came and laid the guy on the ground and cuffed him?   Either something is missing from the story or these security/law enforcement guys had like a feedback loop of stupidity going on.  

Couldn't they just have asked him to keep the gun out of sight?  Wouldn't it have been legal for him to be carrying a real gun?



RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

If her account is true, and I see no reason to doubt it, I hope the 'disorderly conduct' is leveled at the officers responding and not at the boy's father.  If the officer had enough control of the situation to have the man on the ground, knee in back and cuffing him, he already had possession of the gun and had to have known it was a toy.  If there was confusion at that point if the gun were real or not, then the officer is incompetent and needs to find other work.

Will
Will

"I immediately tell him that the gun is a toy and I had just bought it for my son. He asked me if I have the receipt and I say yes and I will bring it."

...because a receipt is somehow more convincing than just looking at the thing and seeing that it's obviously a toy?

bmarvel
bmarvel

Where is the NRA when you need it?

keeponkeepinitdown
keeponkeepinitdown

No liberal outrage about the police answering someone else's phone? 

No lecture from Shutze on the erosion of our privacy? Nope.. that only counts if Google or Apple do it, right?

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

We've not been saved?

keeponkeepinitdown
keeponkeepinitdown

@observist "Wouldn't it have been legal for him to be carrying a real gun? " Do you have some kind of information on him having a concealed handgun license?

Oh wait.. even if he does have a CHL, he was on the ground of an educational facility and concealed handguns are prohibited.

Shit.. I forgot.. you have 0 clue about firearms or the applicable laws. 

bmarvel
bmarvel

@observist New riddle: How many police does it take to identify a toy gun?

Answer: All of them.

observist
observist topcommenter

@Will   They need to confirm the toy gun was obtained legally from an authorized dealer.

observist
observist topcommenter

@bmarvel  In a hotel room somewhere, being serviced by a series of Republican congressmen.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@ruddski Yeah, right.

You really oughtta share whatever it is you're smokin'.

observist
observist topcommenter

@keeponkeepinitdown @observist You seem to be getting a little more articulate, breaking out of your racist shell a little.  Apparently you've matured over the course of 10th grade.  Congratulations.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin @ruddski It's not the Arabs and/or Muslims that we need to fear. In real terms, the damage they did to life and property is insignificant compared to what we've done to ourselves.

We need to get rid of the Patriot Act (Orwell is still laughing at that one), Homeland Security, TSA, Warrantless Wiretaps, the $billions passed out to small town cops to buy SWAT tanks and night vision goggles and assorted other toys, and the list goes on.


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