Tempe man says AR-15 not pointed at anyone at Sky Harbor - East Valley Tribune: Tempe

Tempe man says AR-15 not pointed at anyone at Sky Harbor

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Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2014 9:00 am

The Tempe man, accused of pointing an AR-15 at people in Sky Harbor, says he brought a gun to the airport for "political purposes."

Dr. Peter Steinmetz calls himself a freedom activist.

Steinmetz says he's a peaceful and responsible American who just wanted to show people that a person can responsibly and peacefully carry a gun or even an assault rifle which is what he had.

According to court documents, Steinmetz’s message didn't get across that way.

About two weeks ago, Steinmetz showed up at Terminal 4 inside Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

Records show a woman told officers Steinmetz pointed his AR-15 straight at her and her daughter.

Steinmetz claims he was just setting his gun down.

Two officers arrested Steinmetz.

However, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office has not officially charged Steinmetz.

On Monday, Steinmetz told me this whole stunt was to prove a political point.

"I wanted to educate the public and employees at our airport on this point by allowing them to observe a peaceful person carrying an AR-15 while doing things that people normally do there like waiting and drinking coffee," said Steinmetz.

This was the second time Steinmetz caused a scene like this.

Last November, Steinmetz had his son with him - as well as his AR-15 but he was not arrested.

Most travelers ABC15 spoke with at Sky Harbor on Monday said they are glad Steinmetz will not be returning to the airport with his rifle.

“That’s stupid,” said former police officer Steve Yoder, when told that Steinmetz’s reason for the gun display was political.

“I’m pro-gun… but you can take anything too far,” Yoder said.

Another traveler, Jerry Wilson, said he’d be “paranoid” if he saw an armed Steinmetz and learned of his political motivation.

“I’d be thinking, ‘He needs to be disarmed,’” Wilson said.

One man, who declined an on-camera interview, said seeing Steinmetz armed at the airport would not bother him.

Steinmetz is a research doctor at Barrow's Neurological Center. He is currently on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.

The Tempe Police Department says officers have made welfare checks at Steinmetz's home within the last year.

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