News and Commentary

Elderly Vet Has Guns Seized After Criticizing School Resource Officer For Allegedly Leaving His Post
Vineyard Haven harbor on Martha's Vineyard, MA on August 12, 2013.
Photo by Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images

An 84-year-old veteran of the Korean war who also served as a police officer for decades was relieved of his job as a crossing guard and had his guns seized after criticizing a school resource officer (SRO) for allegedly leaving his post during school hours.

Stephen Nichols, who worked as a crossing guard in Tisbury, Massachusetts, was eating at Linda Jean’s restaurant in Oak Bluff and speaking with another patron when a waitress reportedly overheard part of their conversation. As the MV Times reported, Nichols said he was discussing the SRO’s alleged visits to Xtra Mart to get coffee when children came to school in the morning. Nichols said that he told his friend that someone could “shoot up the school” as the SRO was “leaving his post.”

Nichols, who was a Morse Code specialist for the U.S. Army, told the MV Times, “When I was in the U.S. Army, and it wasn’t just me, it’s anybody who’s in the U.S. service, if you are on guard duty for eight hours, you didn’t leave that position. … And I’m just so accustomed to that, that when I see someone who’s supposed to be protecting kids … leave the school unguarded — if you’re on guard duty, you stay there.”

The waitress reported Nichols to the police two days later, prompting Police Chief Mark Saloio and another police officer to relieve Nichols from working as a crossing guard while he was at the job , then going to Nichols’ home and confiscating his firearms license and guns, as the MV Times reported.

Nichols, who said he has been licensed for firearms for over 60 years, told the MV Times that Saloio “told me to hand [the firearm license] over so I took it out of my wallet and handed it to him,” adding that no paperwork was given to him regarding the stripping of his firearms.

Linda Jean’s owner Marc Hanover, who said he’s known Nichols for decades, called the events “absolutely outrageous,” adding that his waitress “overreacted.” Hanover also spoke with Andy Marcus, who was the person Nichols had conversed with, and said Marcus “assured me there was never a threat made.” Marcus called the affair “absurd,” adding that Nichols never threatened the school and that no other employee at the restaurant thought Nichols was threatening the school. Noting that Nichols was a veteran police officer and constable, he concluded, “He loves kids. It’s almost like of all the people … ”

Nichols, a widower for two years who has 11 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren, concluded, “I would never, ever, ever, harm a child … I just need something to do to get out of the house and I love the kids.

Saloio met with Nichols on Columbus Day to offer his job as a crossing guard back to him. NRAILA reported that an attorney who represents Nichols told the MV Times that Nichols intended to file an appeal to secure the return of his firearms.  NRAILA continued, “Meanwhile, Nichols was informed that his grandson, who manages a Worcester gun shop, is ‘going to be allowed to come down and take the weapons and sell them for me.’ As it stands, Nichols has yet to receive his license or firearms back.”

NRAILA added, “Because there was no proven justification for depriving Nichols of his legally owned firearms, commentators are citing the situation as a cautionary tale against ‘red flag’ firearm seizure laws.”



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