One North Dakota police department is all apologies after officers threatened to shoot two North Dakota State University students – after mistaking their telescope for a gun on Monday evening.
Levi Joraanstad and Colin Waldera narrowly escaped being shot by the officers, as they did not immediately comply – thinking that it was a joke by fellow students.
The duo were outside behind their apartment’s garage setting up a large telescope so that they could take photographs of the moon when a bright light was shined on them and they were told not to move.
The intention of these spotlights that officers use is to make it difficult to blind the person, so it is no surprise the students did not initially believe that they were really being harassed by the police.
Thinking that it was a dumb joke by some of their peers, they continued setting up their telescope – ignoring the officer’s orders.
According to the police, an officer was on patrol and saw the young men setting up. He apparently had mistaken one of the men’s hoodie that had white lettering as a tactical vest – and the telescope for a rifle.
The officer allegedly called other local agencies to find out if there was an operation underway that he wasn’t aware of – and then called for backup.
“I was kind of fumbling around with my stuff and my roommate and I were kind of talking, we were kind of wondering, what the heck’s going on?” NDSU junior Levi Joraanstad told the Grand Forks Herald. “This is pretty dumb that these guys are doing this. And then they started shouting to quit moving or we could be shot. And so at that moment we kind of look at each other and we’re thinking we better take this seriously.”
Despite an armed police officer threatening to actually shoot the students, the department claims that the duo were “never in any danger” and that the surreal overreaction was because it was a situation of “better safe than sorry.”
Once the officers realized the stupidity of the ordeal, Joraanstad said they were very apologetic.
Perhaps it is time for Hallmark to start making a line of “oops” cards for police.
“Sorry I threatened to shoot you for taking photos of the moon.”