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Armed police surround man’s house after tattoo mistaken for gun

Published time: March 19, 2014 19:47
Edited time: March 19, 2014 23:32
Reuters / Jim Bourg

Reuters / Jim Bourg

A Maine man was in for a rude awakening on Tuesday after a tree removal crew reported he’d threatened them with a gun. That’s when police showed up at his home, armed with assault rifles, and demanded he leave his house.

The problem? Michael Smith didn’t actually have a firearm – he had a life-size tattoo of a gun placed on his stomach, and it looks as if there’s a gun tucked into this pants when he’s not wearing a shirt.

The incident began when Smith had gone out shirtless in his snow covered neighborhood to tell crew workers to get off his property, After Smith yelled at the tree removal crew, he went back to bed inside since he works at night. The crew left, but one member thought he had a gun in his pants and alerted police of the situation. Police responded with a group of armed officers and used a megaphone to tell Smith to come outside.

“Obviously it was a misunderstanding and he didn’t have a weapon, but we had to respond to the initial report as if he did,” Maine State Police Trooper Scott Duff said to the Portland Press Herald. “We take all precautions when we don’t have the details.”

“They weren’t 100 percent sure what he was saying,” Duff added to the Morning Sentinel, referring to the crew workers, “but he was yelling and they thought it could be some sort of a threat. They thought he was yelling something to the effect of doing harm, but when we got a hold of him, it ended up just being a tattoo.”

Although Smith walked out of his home shirtless, Duff told the Sentinel that police do not think he did it on purpose, and don’t believe he tried to make it look like he had a gun on him.

“I think he had been sleeping and was wearing pajama pants,” Duff said. “I’m not sure what his mindset was, but he wasn’t pointing to his gun or anything like that.”

For his part, Smith seemed to take the situation in stride, telling the Herald the situation was a misunderstanding after it was resolved.

“I got plans today,” he said. “I didn’t want to get shot.”

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