It has long been the spirit of the American people to not only see what needs to be done, but just taking hold of the task and get it done. So, when we learned that there was a shooting at a Military Recruiters office in Chattanooga Tennessee, many of our veterans responded. In cities and towns across our country, people spontaneously showed up to stand guard. One Marine in Jacksonville NC has drawn attention.
A Marine veteran said he is using his Second Amendment right to protect those inside an armed forces recruitment center.
Matthew Benack, identified as a 20-year Marine veteran, said he will be at the shopping center on Western Boulevard with his gun to protect those inside the recruitment center.
“We’re not a force to play with,” Benack told WNCT. “The lion is ready to play and is always ready to play.”
For some, it might seem strange to see a well-armed man standing in a strip mall parking lot. They might feel that they are in danger, but once they discover why he was there, they feel better.
“I think what he’s doing is pretty awesome” said Megan Parrott, a visitor to the shopping center. “I mean no one else is doing anything to protect the guys working in there.”
And when we think that it is against the law for these men to defend themselves, we should want to defend those who are defending us. We should be more than willing to feel a little uneasy to make them feel safe. But not all share in this understanding.
Police said Benack could stay on the property as long as neighboring businesses and the property manager allowed him to be there. Police told Benack on Monday they heard he had permission.
On Tuesday, police said the property owner rescinded permission for Benack to be there, and asked him to leave. Coldwell Banker Commercial Sun Coast Partners is the property manager and represents the property owner.
So, the only security on the premises is being asked to leave, leaving this recruiting center unprotected. The property managing company made this statement.
Westwood Village Shopping Center is a proud supporter of the military and has been honored to have the Army Recruiting Center as one of our valued tenants here for more than a decade. We value the sacrifices our armed forces make for this country each day and hold all branches of the military in the highest esteem.
We take the security of the recruiters in Westwood Village extremely seriously and are in communications with them about the best way to work together to ensure their safety and the safety of all of our tenants. Yet having an armed civilian who is not known to us, the recruiters or the police arrive to stand vigil in a busy shopping center has the potential to create an unsafe environment, and it is our responsibility to ensure both our tenants’ and customers’ safety.
As the property management firm for Westwood Village, we represent the interests of the owner. As such, we will continue to communicate on the owners’ behalf with the Army Recruiting Center and the Jacksonville Police Department on the best ways to ensure the safety and welfare of the recruiters and all of our tenants and customers.
I pray that there are no other attacks at any locations, but if there are, I hope that Jacksonville’s recruiting station is not the one. They have placed their comfort level over their safety. I hope it was a risk that was worth taking.
We live in a time when there are fewer and fewer seeking to do the right thing. And when men seek to do what is right and good for others, we treat them as nuts.