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VIEWPOINT | Boys with guns unaware of danger
By Randall Schwab
I had a strange experience for a south islander one recent Saturday. I live on the hills north of the Whidbey.net tower about a quarter mile or so away, we have five acres of forest in an area that’s pretty much all forest.
There are walking trails snaking through the area; past houses, which are sparse in the area.
The major trail passes through our property which many people use to walk to Mukilteo Coffee, up by the airport.
By many I mean a few people and a few small groups a week.
I walk the main trail down to the houses at the bottom of the hill for exercise, about half a mile, two or three times a week, turn around and walk back home.
I’ll spend a half hour to an hour making this trek depending on how many rest stops I make.
Occasionally while I’m outside my house at the top of the trail I hear laughing children and talk from their mothers, sometimes their fathers, and I feel a burst of joy just listening to them; my kids are long gone.
Into this setting I will toss this incident: I had just finished my walk down the trail, there’s a house to my left about a hundred feet away, I turned north, to my right, and about 20 feet ahead of me I saw a person, back to me, holding a rifle in his left hand I stopped and looked — for some unknown reason I didn’t feel any threat.
I said: “There’s no hunting allowed here,” as I walked toward him. He turned and it gave me quite a shock; he was wearing what I would describe as terrorist gear, his head was completely covered, dark glasses, he had some sort of a helmet, dark blue or black clothes, I couldn’t see any part that looked like a person.
I didn’t turn around and run probably because he answered me in a young voice: “I’m not hunting sir, my friend and I are having a game.”
That’s probably not his exact words but close; he was very polite. It immediately occurred to me that most terrorists are probably not polite. He explained to me that his rifle shot plastic pellets. The rife looked like it was straight out of military gun catalog, nothing like the BB guns when I was a kid. I didn’t inspect it. I guess in this game he plays with his friend they shoot at each other so they need to have full body protection.
I warned him; very firmly: “This is a very bad idea due to recent events in our country,” and pointing out it’s a residential area and people are often on this trail. After a little more small talk I left him and continued walking toward my house. In about 100 feet I came across his friend and told him the same story. He also was polite and said “yes sir.” Not in a military way.
After I got home I thought that it would be good if I gave the sheriff’s department a heads up on these guys; so I called 911, told the lady this was not an emergency but felt maybe the sheriff could go through the area and if he encountered them to give them the same story I did: “This is a very bad idea!”
Unfortunately, she couldn’t, evidently, see this as anything more than a couple of boys playing. So I don’t know then if he got the message that a couple of young men dressed like terrorists and carrying rifles might appear in your neighborhood. I think it’s safe to say these two guys are in more danger than any body else — remember Trevor Martin.
Randall Schwab lives near Langley.