Does This Look Like a Rifle To You?

(courtesy WDAY TV)

“Levi Joraanstad and Colin Waldera were setting up the large device to take pictures of the moon behind their apartment’s garage on Dakota Dr. N when they were blinded by a bright light and told to stop moving,” Fargo’s reports. “Authorities say an officer patrolling the area had spotted the two out of the corner of his eye, and thought Joraanstad’s dark colored sweater with white lettering on the back looked like a tactical vest and that he might be carrying a rifle.” So the officer slowly went to investigate. Oh wait. That’s not how the police roll these days. Before the kids were blinded by the light (revved up like a deuce) the unidentified officer . . .

“checked area agencies to make sure none had any operations going on before he called for backup. Three or four officers made verbal contact . . . ‘ And then they started shouting to quit moving or we could be shot. And so at that moment we kind of look at each other and we’re thinking we better take this seriously.’ Police say the two were never in any danger and that it was a situation of ‘better safe than sorry.'”

Not specified: whether the officers drew their guns. Wanna bet? Anyway, SWAT wasn’t called and no dogs died in the making of this report.


  1. avatar John Thomas says:

    i wonder at what point these doofuses identified themselves as police officers.

  2. avatar Sanchanim says:

    Cops obviously need to learn the difference between a reflective and refractive telescope! LOL

    1. avatar LJM says:

      ^This. Win.^

  3. avatar CGinTX says:

    Looks more like a SAM tube than a rifle 🙂

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Water cooled Vickers. Don’t everybody have one of those in the garage?

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        I was thinking mini-gun but the Vickers is even better.

    2. avatar Tomyironmane says:

      Looks uncannily like an 84mm recoilless rifle, actually. You can kill SWAT tanks and MRAPs with one of those.

  4. avatar Clay-in-UT says:

    Wow they are doing some long range shooting. Makes my Leopold look like a joke.

    1. avatar 'Liljoe says:

      It’s 17HMR… I’ve been told by reliable sources if you shoot it straight up it can hit the space station….

      1. avatar Ben says:

        both of you get points on this one

    1. avatar 2AMexican says:

      Why would they need a bong?

      1. avatar Tomyironmane says:

        Because then the DEA could get involved, grab the SWAT team, and hose everyone down with automatic fire.

  5. avatar Al says:

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Pareidolia (/pærɨˈdoʊliə/ parr-i-doh-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a stimulus (an image or a sound) wherein the mind perceives a familiar pattern where none actually exists.

    1. avatar LikeISeeIt says:

      This ^. The cop wouldn’t have had a WDAY6 cameraman lighting up the scene..

      10:1 he’s ex-military, ..with almost zero high-school science,.. and, with some added darkness, he assumed the telescope rig to be a hogsaddle-mounted rifle.

      Gaze At The Milky-Way, Die By Gunfire. That’s The Law!

      Trained warriors, who were trained to deal with, defeat, and kill enemies, becoming domestic peace officers. Best. Idea. Evar.

  6. avatar Howdy says:

    All you have to do is turn it around on these specific officers.
    “I saw a guy walking around with a hidden gun at the super market, looks suspicious, HURRY”
    “oh sorry, you’re a cop. Then you were never in any real danger. No blood, no foul, right?”

    i wonder how that would play out? No immunity or special consideration for government employees. Government employees MUST act Constitutionally at all times. Government employees must be held to a higher standard and held accountable for every action they take.

    1. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      Unfortunately that is a ho ho ha ha.

    2. avatar Hannibal says:

      I’ve seen cops get grabbed up and disarmed in states like NY and MD until they’re identified when their shirt rides up. And I’ve seen a cop (I think?) in NJ walk around like that through a supermarket and nobody but me seemed to notice… I guess because no one there expects to see a gun IRL.

  7. avatar Paul53 says:

    No way! That’s a mortar tube!

    1. avatar dh34 says:

      Recoilless Rifle…Karl Gustav 84mm

    2. avatar jwm says:

      It’s a tripod, man! Time to smother the area with arty and air! For the chilluns!

  8. avatar gsnyder says:

    Police buying into the ant-2A brainwashing, paranoid and in fear, believing we are living in a highly dangerous society when the facts display otherwise. The more dangerous situation is the paranoia created by paranoid police.

    1. avatar Roscoe says:

      That point is exactly right and cannot be overstated.

    2. avatar Grindstone says:

      Cops are more likely to die from heart problems or an auto collision than from a violent suspect.

  9. avatar Mark Lloyd says:

    Well it IS rather black and scary looking!

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      And it even has a scope on it! Heck, it might even have a shoulder thingy that goes up.

      1. avatar Mark Lloyd says:

        It’s scawy. I think I piddled my pants.

        There should be a law that the end of it has to be bright orange so people know it’s safe and not a real bazooka or other huge planet killing firearm! Of course, law enforcement telescopes are exempt.
        Even gun owners can agree that this is common sense!!!

        Excuse me while I puke!

  10. avatar Chris Meissen says:

    No, that’s a TOW launcher tube.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Or some kind of MANPAD…

  11. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Looks pretty dangerous, shoot first and ask questions later.

  12. avatar HotandEmpty says:

    FGM 148 Javelin Away

    “Police say the two were never in any danger and that it was a situation of ‘better safe than sorry.’”

    Point a gun at me and threaten my life for no reason, bet your state sanctioned ass you will be sorry not safe.

  13. avatar Bruce Badger says:

    Extra points for the Manferd Mann reference.

    1. avatar Brentondadams says:

      Ah! It’s Bruce Springsteen! I don’t know why but it drives me crazy.

      The version you know is a lie man. Have you ever heard the original on the radio or TV or a movie? No one has. It’s a conspiracy

      ‘Greetings from asbury park new jersey. Track 1

      1. avatar Bruce Badger says:

        I stand corrected. Heard the cover version first and greatly prefer it, In fact absolutely love the whole “Roaring Silence” album. Never bothered to check the writing credits till now.

        Appreciate the dropped musical references though. Do it myself.

        In fact, my kid’s band are newly signed artists for Mega-Force (Fall to June – Check ’em out.) Just found out today they are playing a gig in the town where he was born, which happens to be right near me. So I posted on his Facebook page, “Bring it on home… Bring it back home to me.”

        1. avatar brentondadms says:

          Please, I don’t mean to correct anyone.

          If I heard the springsteen version on terrestrial FM one time, I would drop it forever. Just once.

          Congrats on your kids success.

        2. avatar brentondadms says:

          and congrats on your kids success. Edit button is gone again.

  14. avatar GusMac says:

    Oh sure, the police are well known for only pulling out flashlights when threatening to shoot someone if they don’t comply. Not only were guns guaranteed to be drawn on them in this kind of situation it is very likely that fingers were touching triggers as well.

    I will say the cops are probably right about nobody being in danger if they were pointing guns at them. Bystanders from errant shots are another story. Of course I would not put it past this genius to mistake them for dogs and that would obviously be bad.

  15. avatar GRW says:

    SOP for some Police Forces these days seems to be;

    Cell phone = Go bang bang, shout drop weapon.
    Folded umbrella = Go bang bang, shout drop weapon.
    Dogs = Old Yellar.
    Guy having stroke = Tase bro, tase.
    Lite Bright = Shut. Down. Everything.

    These two folks should be grateful to be alive, being all innocent of any wrongdoing like some kind of citizen with rights (with a black tube devoid of orange tip no less). Time to pen a thank you letter for the boys in blue I think.

    1. avatar Grindstone says:

      Lite Bright = Shut. Down. Everything.

      1-31-07 Never forget

      1. avatar Rob S says:

        The Moon Rulez!

  16. avatar Charlie says:

    Good Lord! I suspect that I have been in constant danger most of my unexpectedly long life, and somehow failed to notice it!

    I’m surprised that the cops, once they realized that they were blithering idiots, didn’t arrest the kids for voyeurism!

    “Everything not compulsory is forbidden!” I think I’ll move to Tierra del Fuego and raise penguins.

    1. avatar Mark Lloyd says:

      They were going to arrest them, but when the cop looked in the telescope, he saw the Enterprise.

  17. avatar TruthTellers says:

    You would think in North Dakota the police wouldn’t be as jumpy and hoplophobic, but I guess it happens everywhere. My guess is the cop is on prescription meds for depression.

    1. avatar NineShooter says:

      Fargo’s the biggest city in da whole state, doncha know…

      Yah, you betcha!

      1. avatar Gary says:

        Yep, most of the population lives in Fargo. Shucks, they even have a Longhorn Steakhouse and a Sheels Sporting Goods! And, you can get your picture made with the wood chipper from the movie and see it on Facebook—yep, the chipper has its own page!

  18. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    No, the police didn’t think the backyard astronomers had a rifle. Rather, the police thought the backyard astronomers were setting up a surface-to-air missile launcher.

    1. avatar Galtha58 says:

      If that thing is a SAM they had better get some better legs on it or they aren’t going to hit anything they are aiming it. It will fall over during the launch. Maybe the police need a physics lesson. 😉

    2. avatar Adub says:

      To shoot the one half-full plane that lands at Hector?

      Cops in North Dakota are usually not this dumb.

  19. To stupid to carry a gun!!! If anyone out there can’t tell the difference between this and a gun they should never be allowed a gun. Google police IQ and there are stories about how the police DON’T want intelligent people who might question orders.

    1. avatar ANdrew Lias says:

      Funny you should say that, I was thinking the same thing. This is probably one of those PDs that implemented maximum IQs!

      1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

        And set that bar mighty low…

  20. avatar NineShooter says:

    Fargo’s the biggest city in da state, doncha know…

    Ya, you betcha!

  21. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    Officer Obie clearly thought that he had caught someone with a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.

    1. avatar Jacob McMerth says:

      That never gets old. No, wait, yes it does.

    2. avatar bontai joe says:

      Nope, it never gets old, I laugh out loud EVERY time…….. 40 watt range heeheeheeheeheehee

  22. avatar Scott says:

    I live close to there. I can tell you all the cops here wana be heroes. They also think they alone should carry n own guns. You think the bright light would have shed light on the fact they weren’t “terrorist”.

  23. avatar Retired LEO says:

    I still get between 15 & 40 “credible threat” memos from DHS a week. One the other day was a drone flying contest last weekend. They got the report from the T.V. news 3 days afterwards.God help us if another 9/11 style attack is actually intercepted intelligence will tweet it too US.DHS hypes all this stuff up to justify existence, trust your government just ask an Indian or 9/11survivor.

  24. avatar More Dead Soldiers :) says:

    >Police say the two were never in any danger and that it was a situation of ‘better safe than sorry.’

    Correction: they are very lucky to be alive.

    In other news, Waco cops and DA’s are still vile, lying scum:

  25. avatar Kendahl says:

    This isn’t unusual for amateur astronomers. Here is the link to a discussion of the incident on the astronomy web site Cloudy Nights:

    A member of my local astronomy club was checked out in response to a 911 call about a guy with a “cannon”.

  26. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    AW c’mon guys-you know they can’t exceed that 90 IQ…sadly if they had shot these kids they would just plant a gun on them(like in Chicago every week”he pointed a GUN at me!”)…

  27. avatar John S. says:

    Officer needs his vision checked; unless they were setting up a heavy machine gun on a tripod his eyesight or his thinking are way screwed up.

  28. avatar Gunr says:

    Does anybody know of someone who makes an adapter, so I can mount one of these under the barrel of my NAA mini revolver?

  29. avatar Joseph says:

    It could have been an old water cooled browning but it’s kinda big, however to untrained popo’s it could have looked like a mortor. Who knows, maybe those loe’s should be issued nvg monicals for night ops… Or better and more often training… I think more often, better, and nvg monicals… LOL

  30. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    As long as the officers made it home safe. That’s the most important thing.

  31. Safety, for the children of course.

  32. avatar DaveL says:

    When the light fell on them, any legitimate excuse for Law Enforcement intervention would have vanished. Therefore the threat to shoot was straight-up assault. If you or I cleared leather and verbally threatened someone and tried to claim we mistook their sweatshirt for a tac vest and their 8″ diameter telescope on a tripod for a rifle, we’d be doing time.

  33. avatar AD says:

    He thought he saw a rifle? So what? My research indicates that open carry of long arms is legal in ND, no permit required.
    It seems like this cop and all of his backup commited multiple felonies.

  34. avatar Nicholas Marrero says:

    I guess you could say the chance of these idiotic officers facing any sort of reprimand are astronomical.

    1. avatar NineShooter says:

      Ha again!

      I enjoyed that one; thanks for the chuckle…

  35. avatar Jjimmyjomga says:

    When actions result in harm due to complete negligence, complete unreasonableness, and wanton disregard, no matter who the actor or what the job, some actions require personal responsibility for ones action. When one pulls a weapon and points it at another, one must take take responsibility for the grave power one holds with the twitch of a finger…no do-overs. I just do not see how two men standing next to a black tube on stilts in a suburban area constitutes immediately elevating to bringing forth deadly force.

  36. avatar Bill Cook says:

    When all was worked out, I hope the couple let the officer look through the scope to get a view of ” hisanus.”

  37. avatar ABC in Illinois says:

    The rest of the story: Joraanstad says the officers were very apologetic when they realized their mistake, and that they explained what had happened.

    1. avatar Another Robert says:

      And “SWAT was not called in”. Modern times, man, take your silver linings where you can get them.

  38. avatar Katy says:

    Why are you all mad at the cops? They are lucky to be alive. They approached a guy with a rifle without drawing their weapons. If that’s SOP, they are setting themselves up to be shot. Someone needs to talk to the chief about how to approach suspects.

    What do you mean he was lying?

  39. avatar Bdk NH says:

    I hope the officer that initiated this non-sense is held to task along with the multiple (one almost certainly a supervising officer) backup officers. The 4 idiots on site couldn’t rub a couple of neurons together and sort out what the kids were doing?

    There is no justification for this sort of escalation of a harmless situation.

  40. avatar actionphysicalman says:

    Wow, a 203mm L4 super-ultralight recoilless mountain gun!

  41. avatar DerryM says:

    Maybe there should be a contest to see how seriously you can fool the Police with the most harmless, innocuous item, like a length of ABS Drain Pipe taped on a tripod and pointed into the air.

    In today’s World you really cannot fault anyone for wanting to know, “What the hell is that?” when you see unknown persons setting-up some unidentifiable device in the dark, nor Police responding to a call from a confused. concerned Citizen reporting such a scenario, being edgy on the initial approach.

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      Interesting contest idea.

      Winner gets a dirt nap?

      1. avatar DerryM says:

        Good question. Hard to tell what the winner would get, but the “dirt nap” would probably be the booby prize for all those who failed to play the scenario right with worked-up, scared LEO’s responding to a sketchy report of suspicious activity made by some old Geezer following the “See something suspicious, report it to the authorities.” meme being tossed around these days. Kind of speaks volumes to the uncertainty we all have to face in the present World. A sad state of affairs.

  42. avatar JimmyDelta says:

    It’s not too late to go back and kill the dogs. The boys at the station must be giving them hell for forgetting that.

    1. avatar NineShooter says:

      After a couple of high-profile doggie deaths of questionable cause at the hands of area LE officers in the past few years, that became a prickly subject and now all local cops are a good bit more careful about shoot-first-check-true-danger-level-later canine capers.

  43. avatar Joe Mama says:

    Barney Fife lives.

  44. avatar Johnb says:

    and they call gun owners paranoid….sheesh…

  45. avatar derfel cadarn says:

    ANYTIME the police are involved other people’s safety goes out the window ! To believe otherwise is to be willfully ignorant .

  46. avatar Alan Longnecker says:

    Rifle? No. I can see someone mistaking it for a one-shot SAM (with a NASA sticker on it.)

  47. avatar Sam Helm says:

    I’m just surprised they weren’t tasered from a drone, which is evidently now legal in North Dakota. After all, it was a tube on a tripod, which could be used to. . .

  48. avatar GS650G says:

    Which asshole neighbor called the cops on them?

  49. avatar Tommyr says:

    SO glad they didn’t see my 13.1″ Dobsonian reflector! They would have thought it was a cannon. The pussification of America continues……..

  50. avatar LordGopu says:

    What law were they supposedly breaking that even allowed police to come on their property? Or were they on public land?

    If someone in America wants to set up an antitank weapon in his backyard it seems to me that it would be legal (as long as your state doesn’t ban ownership).

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