Last week, five members of the Oath Keepers were arrested in Mexico Beach, Florida for openly carrying firearms and violating Bay County’s curfew. As we have reported and informed for both Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Irma, general open carrying of firearms is verboten in the “gunshine state” (as it was once more aptly known) of Florida.
In bold letters, we advised our readers:
Best advice: keep your firearms concealed and don’t dress in a manner to attract attention.
Apparently, the Oath Keepers didn’t take that warning. According to the WJHG News, Anthony Cusumano, 34, and Tammy Joan Crandield, 48, were charged with misdemeanor curfew violation, while Thomas Hubert Terry, 34; Brian Charles Calkins, 31; and Charles Randall Moye, 44, were charged with violating the curfew as well as open carry of a firearm.
According to a report released by the Bay County Sheriff, the group was patrolling the area in Mexico Beach in a maroon Nissan Frontier and a white Ford Crown Victoria, after the sundown curfew. The Ford was decked out to look like a patrol cruiser, and every member was wearing tactical clothing, including one vest that stated “tactical officer.”
BCSO Maj. Jimmy Stanford said the group wasn’t local to the Mexico Beach area.
“They’re out there patrolling the streets,” he said. “They don’t know the area, they don’t know the community, they don’t know our laws, and that just lends itself to dangers.”
After it was confirmed the five were in Mexico Beach doing humanitarian work, they were released from the Bay County Jail.
Stewart Rhodes, Founder of the Oath Keepers, released the following statement regarding the arrest:
Under the chaotic circumstances in Panama City after the hurricane, one of our volunteer security teams, out escorting medics and search and rescue, were temporarily detained by the Bay County Sheriff Department (along with the first responders, they were escorting, who were also detained), but when their combined mission was clarified, they were all released on their own recognizance, without having to post bond, and all of their gear and vehicles returned to them.
We are now back on mission, providing security escorts for first responders as they do wellness checks, as well as doing our own wellness checks at the request of families worried about missing relatives, and delivering food and water.
To clarify: our team was not doing anti-looter patrolling of the community. They were only escorting medics and search and rescue to a particular address of a missing person that the medics and rescue had been dispatched to locate. The medics/rescue team requested our security escort. We have been doing such missions for over a week, and will continue to do so.
Our own medics and search and rescue are also doing wellness checks on particular people and addresses at the request of their families.
We were NOT doing anti-looter security patrols, nor are we “vigilantes” as a local paper labeled us.
Our security team was lead by an Army Ranger veteran who also served as a Florida Sheriff’s deputy, and also included a South Florida EMT/Fire/Search and Rescue professional, and a USMC combat veteran who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan as a machine-gunner.
The first response team we were escorting was made up of a Navy Corpsman veteran, and an Army MP veteran and retired police officer and his wife who were volunteers assisting the corpsman in his search and rescue. They were also temporarily detained.
We will now continue to do this important work of wellness checks to help make sure all missing persons are accounted for. We are working out of a business in Panama City owned by one of our members, Charlie Huffman, who is one of our local leaders as well as our national communications lead.
In addition, we have already delivered 10,000 meals to the community and have another 10,000 meals coming for survivors and first responders. These 20,000 meals were donated to this disaster relief effort by Oath Keepers member Chance Gibson of American Survival Wholesale.
We appreciate Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford, and his outstanding staff, taking the time under these busy, hectic emergency circumstances, to rapidly resolve this matter so we can get back to work helping people. We consider Sheriff Ford a good, constitutional sheriff any of us would be proud to serve under.
Founder of Oath Keepers
Army Airborne veteran
and fire-fighter veteran
Personally, I can say that Mexico Beach and the Port St. Joe area are flooded with law enforcement. I know because I’m one of them. While the area has been devastated, both the National Guard and numerous law enforcement agencies are operating in the area, and looting has not been an issue, contrary to what Panama City has seen.