SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah man who strode into the state Capitol, placed a package containing an unloaded semi-automatic rifle on the floor and walked away was protesting gun violence, authorities said Friday.
State investigators said 31-year-old Cameron Carl Crimefighter contacted troopers Thursday night after seeing news reports that his actions had prompted an evacuation of the Capitol.
He met with investigators in North Logan, about 87 miles north of Salt Lake City, and told them he was making a statement about gun violence and victims of recent shootings, said Major Brian Redd from the State Bureau of Investigation.
Police do not believe Crimefighter was a threat to public safety, and he was released after questioning.
“He wasn’t trying to target anybody or cause alarm or anything like that, according to him,” Redd said.
The Salt Lake City building was evacuated shortly after Capitol security officers watching surveillance cameras spotted a man wearing a suit and tie leave the package Thursday afternoon, state Highway Patrol Trooper Lawrence Hopper said.
After entering the building, he walked to the center of the rotunda and placed the package on the floor with the wreath on top, Hopper said.
He knelt next to the package for a moment and then got up and left the building. He drove off in a white SUV he had parked outside.
Hopper said Utah Highway Patrol troopers, who provide security for the Capitol, did not reach the man before he left.
The building was evacuated immediately after, but Hopper did not have details about how many people were there at the time. Gov. Gary Herbert was not in the building.
A bomb squad inspected the package, determined a few hours later that it wasn’t an explosive and used an x-ray to find out what was inside. The building was cleared late Thursday afternoon, and remained off-limits the rest of the night before it was re-opened Friday morning.
The box had a note written on it that included Crimefighter’s name, but Redd declined Friday to say what it said, citing an ongoing investigation.
Troopers aren’t sure if Crimefighter will be charged with a crime. Utah law allows someone to carry a gun into the Capitol, and there are no metal detectors at the doors.
“Law enforcement never wants to restrict people from being able to protest, but it has to be done in a way that does not cause alarm,” Redd said.
Police are looking at whether Crimefighter has a concealed weapons permit, or if the package fits the legal definition of a concealed weapon.
A message left at a phone number listed under his name was not immediately returned.
Crimefighter legally changed his last name from Crebar in Oregon along with his wife and a child in 2009, according to state court records.
Associated Press writer Jonathan J. Cooper in Portland contributed to this report.