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Private Citizens Taking up Arms to Protect Military Centers

SCRANTON — In the wake of the deadly shootings at a military recruitment center in Tennessee last Thursday, private citizens are taking it upon themselves...
scr recruiting

SCRANTON -- In the wake of the deadly shootings at a military recruitment center in Tennessee last Thursday, private citizens are taking it upon themselves to guard other recruitment centers across the country, including in Scranton.

However, the U.S. Army is discouraging folks doing this.

Rob O'Donnell stood guard outside the military recruitment centers at the Icebox in Scranton Monday.

The retired New York City Police Officer said he is providing armed protection at those offices in light of the recent deadly shootings in Tennessee.

“I'm not here to scare anyone or prove a point, it's just a sense of security basically,” said O’Donnell. “I've had a lot of people walk by and give me the thumbs up, you know, they don't ask why I'm here, but they kind of know deep inside.”

On Thursday, FBI investigators say a man opened fire on two separate military sites in Chattanooga, including a recruiting center, killing four Marines and one sailor.

Now across the country, private citizens are taking it upon themselves to provide armed protection at recruitment centers since recruitment officers are not permitted to carry weapons.

For people coming to use facilities at the Icebox, they feel having armed guards will make things more dangerous.

“Unsafe just knowing that someone is walking around with a gun and they can be able to shoot anyone that they come in contact with,” said Tara Munley from Scranton.

“I think they're getting carried away with this,” said Larry McAndrew from Scranton. “I really don't think it's necessary.”

In a statement from the U.S. Army's Recruiting Command Headquarters in Syracuse, it discourages people from taking this action, saying, “…local communities can support our security by reporting suspicious activity, particularly around recruiting centers…”

Still some people commend what O'Donnell is doing.

“I think it's good for citizens to support the troops, so I support him,” said Brock Noldy from Olyphant.

“It's America, you know. He has the freedom to do what he wants and at least he's coming from a good place. He's not doing it in any kind of a bad way,” said Harmony Vitali from Olyphant.

The owner of the Icebox declined to talk, asking Newswatch 16 to leave the property.

Scranton police would only say they did not receive any calls or complaints about O’Donnell guarding the recruitment centers.