Staff report

Pamplin Media Group

Catherine Weiss, a Hillsboro resident and parent, wants to know why a man was walking near her kids’ schools with a shotgun slung over his back last week — and why police didn’t doing anything about it.

The scare started near Century High School when a man went walking with a shotgun on Tuesday and Thursday, apparently just to prove a point. Hillsboro police said that while it may be alarming to see a weapon near a school, what the man was doing was perfectly legal.

Hillsboro police spokesman Lt. Mike Rouches said police officers responded to the scene and talked with the man, who did not identify himself. Rouches said the man explained he was taking a stand in support of the Second Amendment.

The man was seen walking on public sidewalks with a rifle slung over his shoulder near Century High School, R.A. Brown Middle School, Ladd Acres Elementary School and Imlay Elementary School.

According to Rouches, carrying a visible firearm is legal under Oregon’s open-carry law.

Rouches said that even though the man was carrying a firearm near a school, police officers had no legal right to find out the man’s identity.

Ironically, according to Rouches, if someone is stopped for not using a turn signal, for example, he or she is required to produce identification. But in the case of an armed man who is not violating any laws, the police do not have the right to do so.

“I know it seems off, but in the case of a traffic violation we have the right to ask that you identify yourself,” Rouches explained. “In this case, it’s no different than anyone walking down the street in violation of no laws or infractions. We can ask, but in those cases with no cause for a violation or crime, everyone has the right to refuse to be identified. We asked him; he refused.”

However, Rouches pointed out that police officers will respond if they are called about him again.

“We will continue to respond to calls when he is out and monitor his activity, but we have no legal right to detain him,” said Rouches.

The idea of a man wielding a shotgun near a school disturbs some Hillsboro parents, however.

“Any man with a gun walking around schools, period — especially in my area — is terrifying,” said Weiss.

When the armed man was spotted last Thursday, Sept. 19, the Hillsboro School District went on alert. Schools were put on lockout, and telephone voice-mail alerts went out to parents.

School officials sent out the following voicemail message: “A man in the area has been demonstrating his right to bear arms by walking, with a firearm, on public streets. The Hillsboro School District is working closely with local law enforcement to ensure that your students are safe while at school.”

A YouTube clip posted one month ago shows a different man, who calls himself the “Marked Guardian,” openly carrying his firearm around Hillsboro. Some parents said making a point like this crosses the line — especially in the wake of last week’s shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., and last December’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“What’s right is right,” Weiss said, “and what’s wrong is wrong.”

Parent Ben Van Frank said he fully supports the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, but has reservations about the recent stances in Hillsboro.

“I believe people have the right to protect themselves and their families,” Van Frank said. “However, when you display your firearms in a blatant manner, that tends to raise questions.”

Police said the kids were safe, and the man was not a threat.

“To carry a gun in front of civilians, whether it be kids or adults, that’s not a great way to prove a point,” said parent and cheerleading coach Jessica Lively, “especially after what we’ve seen in America.”

School district administrators said if the man is seen walking with a gun again, they will put schools back on lockout. That means doors are locked and nobody is allowed out — or in.

— Doug Burkhardt and

Jim Redden contributed

to this story.

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