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Thread: Cautionary tale on open carry

  1. #1
    Anti-Saldana Freedom Fighter Venator's Avatar
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    Some of you may remember this shooting.



    A case of overreacting about a man with a gun call. This happened in my home town of Traverse City, MI in May of 1998. I tried to find more references but couldn’t. My recollection was that John Clark an eccentric and wealthy man with some history of paranoia, was raking his leaves in his yard wearing a handgun in a holster. Neighbors called the police on him. Several officers arrived, one of which was Sgt. Finch. Sgt. Finch knew Mr. Clark and tried to convince him to go into the house and not wear his gun around his yard as it was disturbing the neighbors. Clark refused, mentioned it was not against the law to have a firearm and that he was legally allowed to posses firearms. Mr. Clark believed the TC police department was corrupt with ties to the Mafia (which may or may not have been true, the mob does have a presence in TC.), and that they were after him. More police responded including the County Sheriffs department and the State Police, and SWAT. The police escalated the situation, which prompted Mr. Clark to retreat to his house, Sgt. Finch then followed Mr. Clark into his house without permission. Sgt. Finch didn’t see that Mr. Clark had pick up a rifle in the large entryway until it was pointed at him by Mr. Clark that said get out of my house, when Sgt. Finch refused Clark opened fire shooting Sgt Finch several times. A note that would most likely not have saved Sgt. Finch was the fact that he was NOT wearing body armor at the time.



    I post this as a real life situation where the LOE’s have escalated a non-issue into the tragic results that played out. This whole incident could have been avoided had the police handled the situation differently. Some argue that Mr. Clark was mentally ill, perhaps, but the LOE’s so mishandled this situation that even a reasonable person may have become agitated in his place. This incident does not stop me from openly carrying my handgun, but I do know that things can go bad in a hurry.




    Dennis Warren Finch, 52
    Traverse City, Mich., Police Department
    May 13, 1998

    "Let the good times roll," Dennis Finch was fond of saying. "The bad times will take care of themselves.”.

    Sgt. Finch was murdered by John Clark on the porch of a home in Traverse City, Mich., on May 12, 1998, after a two-hour standoff. Finch tried his best to talk Clark into putting his gun down while Clark expounded upon his right to bear arms and his perception that mafiosos were running rampant in the small town on the shores of Lake Michigan. Clark ended the argument with gunfire.

    Deputy Scott Heller was the first to reach Finch as he lay on his stomach on the porch where he had fallen. Heller said Finch's final words before losing consciousness were, "I can't die, I don't want to die." Dennis Finch called for his wife as he slipped away, a spreading pool of blood soaking his uniform.

    Heller grabbed Finch under the arms and pulled him to an ambulance. Finch was taken to the hospital where he died the next morning.

    Finch died in front of the large Victorian house Clark had inherited. Inside, investigators would find 58,000 rounds of ammunition, plastic explosives, a number of semi-automatic rifles and handguns and even an anti-tank gun.

    Prosecutors argued that given Clark's animosity toward police and government and his vast inventory of weapons, the death of an officer was just about inevitable. That's not much comfort to his widow, Agnes.

    Agnes, who has remained in Traverse City, says she still suffers from frequent flashbacks to the hospital after Dennis was shot. Driving by the house where it happened — since converted into a bed and breakfast — Agnes says she can see her husband's blood on the carpet. Still, it's getting better.

    "It took me three years to get through and go through everything I had to go through and get to the other side," Agnes says.

    But she remembers her man well.

    Dennis Finch was born the fourth of twelve children into a family that struggled financially. Dennis moved around a lot as a kid, wherever his father could find work, and quickly learned to be industrious. By the time Dennis was 8, he was selling blueberries and blackberries he'd picked for extra money.

    The young couple met when they were 17. He was the only man she ever dated, then or since.

    Agnes also remembers a few conversations with Dennis that would come back to haunt her. On the way to Dennis' funeral, Agnes told her daughters that their father had had a premonition that his life would be cut short. "He would say things like 'I'm going to die young,' or, 'I have a feeling I'm going to die tragically,'" she told the Intelligence Report. "Well, when you're 17 or 18 and your boyfriend says something like that, you think about a car accident." Murder was beyond her imagination.

    They were married in 1965, both of them 19. He was drafted soon after, and joined the Marines just five months after the wedding. Their first daughter was born on the last day of boot camp, and Dennis shipped out the next day to Vietnam. He wouldn't see his new family for another 18 months.

    When Dennis became a police officer, money was always tight, although the family did manage several vacations. But some of the best times were much simpler outings, camping in the summers near a lake, fishing, swimming, laughing and lazing about with a family they were close to. Agnes' children remember those camping trips well, she says, and that comforts her some.

    Clark was sentenced to life in prison. At sentencing, Agnes addressed him directly, telling him she hoped he would burn in hell. "What have you done with your life, John Clark? Where have you worked? Who have you helped?"

    "You were born into a family of wealth. You had money, you spent it on guns," she told her husband's murderer. "You took my dream for a retirement with my husband. I have to find a way to build a new life now without the man I've known and depended on for 33 years."

    Some sources:

    http://archives.record-eagle.com/1998/18guns.htm



    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-18979984.html




    An Amazon best seller "MY PARENTS OPEN CARRY" http://www.myparentsopencarry.com/

    *The information contained above is not meant to be legal advice, but is solely intended as a starting point for further research. These are my opinions, if you have further questions it is advisable to seek out an attorney that is well versed in firearm law.

  2. #2
    Regular Member MetalChris's Avatar
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    I wonder what the "anti-tank gun" actually was...Probably a .50 cal BMG?

    You gotta love the MSM!!

  3. #3
    Regular Member dougwg's Avatar
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    Sgt. Finch should have just told the neighbors to mind their own business.

    Sad, very sad.

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  5. #5
    Regular Member Fallschirmjger's Avatar
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    Just...wow:shock:.
    Did the police do Anything right? They responded to a man doing something perfectly lawful. They escalated a lawful situation, and when the individual tries to de-escalate by distancing himself, Officer Finch pursues, without much or any probable cause from the story.

    While I feel sorrow for Officer Finch's death, I believe he brought it on himself.

  6. #6
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    Venator wrote:
    Sgt. Finch was murdered by John Clark on the porch of a home in Traverse City, Mich., on May 12, 1998, after a two-hour standoff. Finch tried his best to talk Clark into putting his gun down while Clark expounded upon his right to bear arms and his perception that mafiosos were running rampant in the small town on the shores of Lake Michigan. Clark ended the argument with gunfire.
    ..I can't help but be a skeptic here. I guess I want there to be more to the story. The news story doesn't mention Clark doing anything illegal, and they definately set a different tone than Venator's account. I wish they would've mentioned how the police got to be there in the first place. I want them to say how he was waving his gun around threatening to shoot people while making irrational paranoid statements about the mafia. It's just so sad i don't want to believe it how Venator's told it.

    Nothing meant to be negative about you Venator, you are probably the most reputable source on OCDO.

  7. #7
    Regular Member Michigander's Avatar
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    I'd call that idiocy on all sides. That story made no one look good. Unfortunately, that sort of thing just adds fodder to the anti's as far as most people are concerned.
    Answer every question about open carry in Michigan you ever had with one convenient and free book- http://libertyisforeveryone.com/open-carry-resources/

    The complete and utter truth can be challenged from every direction and it will always hold up. Accordingly there are few greater displays of illegitimacy than to attempt to impede free thought and communication.

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