My little town....

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by CRC, Mar 30, 2006.

  1. CRC

    CRC Survivor of Tidal Waves | RIP 7-24-2015 Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    This is big news here..It was the headline on the front page of the bi weekly paper we have here....

    Movie 'stars' are the talk of town

    By Benjamin Price, News-Leader

    Days after setting off a brief panic that prompted dozens of officers with automatic rifles to surround the downtown post office, a group of Fernandina Beach High School students was back at school Monday.

    And as one could imagine, the rumors were flying.

    Student Peter Petzold said he's been amazed by the media attention. Now he just hopes to get a good grade on the Spanish project that inadvertently caused all the hoopla.

    He also realizes he might be lucky to be alive.

    Petzold and about nine other FBHS students were in the post office basement last Thursday afternoon shooting a movie scene that involved fake weapons.

    Unbeknownst to them, local towboat engineer Patrick "Bucky" Molchan was walking to O'Kane's Irish Pub across the street when he saw someone run into the post office with an automatic rifle.

    "I saw a guy run out of the post office, open his car, pull a gun out of the back seat, then run back into the post office," Molchan said Tuesday. "I thought, 'That ain't right.'"

    So he called 911.

    Police arrived a few minutes later, closed off several blocks downtown, told businesses to keep their patrons inside, evacuated the library and called on Jacksonville SWAT to assist them in surrounding the building.

    A tense, hour-long standoff followed as cops and downtown patrons believed several people inside were being held hostage by gunmen.

    Inside, the students were completely oblivious to the situation.

    Petzold said they had no idea what was happening until they left the building to go home and were met by the business end of real loaded rifles and the several screaming officers.

    "They were yelling, 'Get down on the ground, get down on the ground,'" he said. "We had no idea what was going on."

    The story made national and - according to some students - even international headlines over the weekend.

    "I heard from a kid today who said he read about the story on a Pakistani newspaper's web site," Petzold said.

    Other students arrived at school Monday desperately wanting to know just what had happened over spring break.

    Some of Petzold's fellow Spanish students were on a trip overseas last week when they heard the news. They were told Petzold and his friends had tried to rob a bank.

    "There were tons of crazy rumors," he said.

    After the initial excitement wore off, Petzold said he had time to think about the situation over the weekend. One thing that sunk in is how easily this could have resulted in a horrible tragedy.

    If the students had brought the rifles upstairs when they left, it's possible an officer could have taken a shot at them through the window.

    Police records show that fear wasn't unfounded.

    According to a Fernandina Beach Police report, "several occupants were observed walking towards the west side doors in a single file formation with the last individual carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle."

    To the cops, there was still no way of knowing this wasn't the "real deal." The situation wasn't resolved until the students were lined up on the sidewalks outside.

    For student Thomas Morrison, he's got the story of the year for the school paper.

    "These guys are celebrities," the writer for The Pirate Press said. "They're being held as heroes."

    "Everyone's been talking about it, saying they saw them on the front page of the newspaper or on Fox News, Yahoo news and," he said. "I even heard it was in a Pakistani newspaper."

    At the post office this week, Postmaster Ronald Steedley said things were "back to normal."

    He gave the students permission to shoot the movie and was actually watching them with his wife and daughter. He also had no idea police were outside with their guns trained on the building.

    After thinking about it over the weekend, he said he too was just happy no one got hurt.

    "It could have been a different story," he said. "The police department responded exactly as they should have. Fortunately, because they're professionals, they handled the situation well."

    Steedley said he explained the situation to the manager of post office operations in Jacksonville, to whom he reports, and will not face any "repercussions."

    When asked if there was anything he would have done differently, he said he would have found out beforehand exactly what the students planned to bring inside the building.

    "I knew what they were doing and I knew they were bringing costumes and things like that," he said. "I would have never allowed them to bring anything like a gun in the post office."

    There were no charges filed in Thursday's incident.

    But whether the city will charge the students or the post office for the officers' time and resources remains under consideration.

    Former interim city manager Jerry Sinclair said that's still a possibility. "I'm sure we'll be looking into that," he said Monday. "It hasn't really been investigated yet on our end."

    Both Petzold and Steedley said they had not been approached by anyone about paying the city or law enforcement.

    Story created Mar 29, 2006 - 17:13:14 PST.
  2. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

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