Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Police/Media Hoax? Story of Employees Taking Refuge in Freezer from Open Carriers in Texas Likely Never Happened

The widely reported story that Jack in the Box employees locked themselves in the freezer because they feared open carry activists is almost certainly a hoax.  The event was reported to have happened at a Jack in the Box in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

This video report by NBC5 reporter Ken Kalthoff shows Irwin Harris saying that they entered the restaurant and were served without any fuss.  He said they ordered, received their food, and left.   The police told NBC5 that the employees then went into the cooler for protection.   That seems a little odd... lock yourself in the freezer *after* the armed men act politely, pay for their purchases, and walk out?   The only thing NBC5 has to show this is an email from the police.  The Jack in the Box people refused to talk to the reporter.

Open Carry Texas has more.  They requested the 911 calls to the police for the incident.   They say there was only one, and they put it on YouTube.  The caller simply describes the open carriers as casually walking, with one of them filming the others.  They also contacted Jack in the Box, where officials deny that employees were ever in fear of their life.  From the Open Carry Texas YouTube that includes the audio of the 911 call:
"Jack in the Box officials deny their employees were in fear of their lives or locked  themselves in a freezer."
While I was not there, it certainly appears that we have another media frenzy against open carriers, that amounts to a hoax.   The idea that employees locked themselves in the freezer *after* the open carriers left, and were so scared that they never called 911, and even denied that it ever happened to their bosses, is simply unbelievable.

Can we believe that the police sent an unverified email to a media outlet...

It seems much more likely to me.

This can use a bit more investigation.   I would like to see the police email, and figure out where it came from.   Maybe a Jack in the Box employee jokingly made a comment to police that got blown up, but it seems very likely that fear and "locking in the freezer" never happened.

Update:  This is the police report that the Forbes reporter relied on:

In the interest of transparency, here is the full statement from Fort Worth P.D., which Sgt. Bush just confirmed to me (on Tues 5/6) is accurate:
On May 1st the F.W.P.D. received a call stating four males were carrying assault rifles in the parking lot of the Jack-in-the-Box located at Sycamore School Road and South Freeway.
Upon arrival, officers discovered a group of 4-6 males carrying rifles. The men reported that they were conducting an Open Carry Demonstration.
Officers spoke with Jack-in-the-Box employees who reported that they feared for their lives and believed they were being robbed. They locked themselves inside a freezer for protection out of fear the rifle-carrying men would rob them.
The demonstration had no signage that would have alerted anyone to their real purpose, and to our knowledge they did not attempt to contact anyone in the Fort Worth Police Department to advise us prior to the demonstration.
A patrol supervisor made the scene and spoke with members of the demonstration. He explained that in the future it would be advantageous if they carried large signage or flags declaring their purpose. He also gave them the number to the local police station so they could advise police prior to their next demonstration.
The initial call was #140326011.
We respect the rights of all citizens to peacefully protest and the right to bear arms. However, we cannot stress enough how a simple phone call to police prior to this demonstration and the use of easily visible signage could have avoided un-necessarily alarming the public.

So, this appears to be an unverified report from a sargent who says police officers said that Jack in the Box employees told them that this happened. 

It will be interesting to see what the official police reports say.

 ©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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Wireless.Phil said...

Both funny and sad, if true, which I doubt cause even 911 calls can be faked, like everything else these days.

Uncle Rick said...

I grew up in Ft. Worth in the '50s and '60s. My dad was a firefighter, but I really didn't know much about the PD then and don't know anything now. I will say this: it's hard to imagine Texans -- even Jack-in-the-Box employees -- behaving like that.

Anonymous said...

"We cannot stress enough how a simple phone call to police prior to this demonstration and the use of easily visible signage could have avoided un-necessarily alarming the public."

Because you always have to have a sign to actually use your rights. /sarc

Anonymous said...

Having a SIGN defeats the entire purpose of an open carry demonstration. The point is to carry a visible firearm during NORMAL activities, which don't include holding signs.