You may have followed the situation that played out online and in Mahopac, New York on Saturday evening. Alexander Booth, a veteran who posts on Instagram as whiskey_warrior_556, put of video from his home as the Putnam County Sheriff and other police assembled outside his home.
It wasn’t clear exactly what prompted the police response at the time. Booth claimed it was a red flag confiscation and hinted that it may have involved possession of 30-round magazines (which are illegal under New York’s SAFE Act).
The hours-long standoff drew the attention of civil rights and Second Amendment supporters around the country.
Following the #WhiskeyWarrior556 closely
This is what happens when we send militarized police forces in to confiscate civil rights from citizens based solely on the opinion from an acquaintance #RedFlagLaws
— Libertarian-In-Chief (@ToddHagopian) November 24, 2019
Police say they were investigating a prior domestic violence situation when an officer allegedly heard what he thought was a gunshot. He then called in backup and surrounding homes were evacuated.
After a deluge of calls and social media traffic regarding the Booth standoff, the Sheriff’s department issued a statement denying that they were trying to carry out a “red flag” confiscation.
They claimed that all of the online attention had made the situation more difficult to resolve with some encouraging booth to remain in the house. As news12.com reported . . .
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office says the social media frenzy heightened the stakes of the incident because law enforcement couldn’t get in touch with the community from the heavy overflow of calls and messages. “This is a person in crisis, having mental illness, having issues and he didn’t need the people on social media telling him that his rights are being violated. He needed help — medical help,” says Town of Carmel Police Chief Michael Cazzari.
The situation was finally resolved around midnight on Saturday when Booth was persuaded to come out and was taken into custody peacefully. The Putnam County Sheriff issued the following press release. Booth won’t be charged for Saturday’s standoff, but has been charged relating to a previous alleged domestic situation involving his wife.
Note that no guns or New York-prohibited magazines were found on the premises.
Again, there was a lot of confusion as the situation played out, some due to Booth’s sketchy description of what was happening, and some due to online speculation about the situation on the ground and the motivation of local police for surrounding Booth’s home.
Much of the speculation was incorrect and similar to early media reports in active shooter situations which frequently turn out to be wrong.
Gun rights supporters are understandably concerned with the proliferation of due process-free red flag laws in states around the country and their potential for abuse by spouses, exes, co-workers and others. That concern for a veteran who appeared to be targeted for such a confiscation seemed to feed much of the online activity about what was happening in Mahopac on Saturday.
It seems clear that we still don’t know the whole story here. We’ve heard a partial representation of Booth’s side from the live streaming he posted to Instagram, but that didn’t appear to be a clear presentation of his side of things.
The Putnam County Sheriff will hold a press conference today to give their side of what led up to the standoff and why Booth was arrested.
In the mean time, a GoFundMe account has been set up by supporters for his legal defense.
A gofundme has been started for #WhiskeyWarrior556, to cover any legal fees he may incur, or possibly to retain counsel to sue over New York States illegal & unconstitutional actions.
— Michael Coudrey (@MichaelCoudrey) November 24, 2019
UPDATE: The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department’s Facebook page seems to have been taken down. Here’s an image of the statement they released: