HALIFAX - Halifax police say charges of mischief and possessing weapons dangerous to the public are appropriate for a 35-year-old man who allegedly walked through a local trail wearing camouflage and carrying Airsoft weapons, given ”everything the public and police went through.”
Jason Keith Gillespie of Halifax appeared in court Wednesday to face charges stemming from a gun scare on the Linear Trail in Clayton Park that led to a large police presence Tuesday.
“The individual was carrying these guns that … even police beleived were real,” police spokesman Const. Pierre Bourdages said.
Bourdages said the mischief charge comes from the fact Gillespie prevented people from enjoying a piece of municipal property when they could have done so.
The charge of having a weapon dangerous to public peace applies to imitation weapons, Bourdages said, and is warranted given the “gravity” of the incident.
“These two charges are appropriate given the circumstances, and everything that the public and police went through,” he said.
Police say Gillespie had three Airsoft weapons – a long gun, assault rifle and pistol. Bourdages said they believe he was going to use the weapons for target practice at nearby park, which is against HRM bylaws.
The suspect arrived at the courthouse around 10 a.m. Wednesday and appeared before a judge in the early afternoon. He has been released on conditions and is due back in court on Oct. 23.
Police responded to Westridge Drive in Clayton Park after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday after two people reported seeing a man in fatigues walking along the path with a long gun on his back. The suspect turned himself in an hour later, and no threats were made or shots fired.
Airsoft gun ‘not really a weapon:’ local marksman
The president of the Atlantic Marksmen Association said it wasn’t a good idea for 35-year-old Jason Gillespie to walk through a trail in Clayton Park with Airsoft guns, but is questioning the charge of possessing weapons dangerous to the public.
Police have said Gillespie was on his way to practice marksmanship in a local park when he was spotted and officers responded to the area, but Sean Hansen said on Wednesday those who use firearms for shooting know to do so at a range or out hunting.
“I don’t know what kind of marksmen shooting you’d get out of little plastic pellet,” Hansen said Wednesday.
Police have circulated photos of air guns similar to the ones Gillespie was using, but Hansen said he would like to see the exact ones he had because some of the ones demonstrated are illegal, and not related to what Gillespie was carrying.
Hansen also said the charge of possessing a dangerous weapon is not appropriate because air guns can be bought in many stores around Halifax.
“I don’t think the weapons charge is actually going to stick … [it’s] not really a weapon,” he said.