After In the wake of the deaths of four Marines and a sailor were killed by at the hand of a lone gunman in Chattanooga last week, armed civilians have been volunteeredering to stand guard at military recruiting stations around the country to protect them — but according to a memo from Marine Corps Recruiting Command, troops are being warned to keep their distance and alert call law enforcement of their presence.
In a memo published Tuesday that was obtained by Marine Corps Times, July 21 by MCRC Commander Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, the head of Marine Corps Recruiting Command, and obtained by Marine Corps Times, Marines are advised troops not to support these "armed citizen" volunteers in any way.
"These citizens' presence, while well intentioned, will be counterproductive to our recruiting operations," Brilakis wrote.
A spokesman for MCRC, Maj. Garron Garn, a spokesman for MCRC, confirmed the authenticity of the memo.
"We are concerned for the safety of not only our Marines, but the public as a whole, and while most armed citizens have the best intentions at heart, it is not unrealistic to assume a possible incident like a negligent discharge may occur," he said in a statement provided to Marine Corps Times. "Additionally, we are concerned that armed citizens may detract interested individuals from entering our offices, which ultimately negatively effects our recruiting mission. We ask that these concerned citizens show their support in other ways that are less impactful on our mission attainment."
If armed volunteers appear in the vicinity of any Marine Corps offices, Brilakis wrote in his memo, Marines should immediately call local law enforcement to deal with them.
"Inform [law enforcement officers] that the Marine Corps did not request nor do we support [armed citizens] being in proximity of our facilities," he wrote.
Marines were also instructed to call the relevant Army Corps of Engineers representative to notify the lessor of the recruiting office property of the presence of the armed individuals.
Troops should not interact or engage with the armed citizens, Brilakis wrote, unless "absolutely necessary." If such an interaction is unavoidable, he wrote, Marines should tell the volunteers their intent is appreciated, but their presence is unnecessary, and disruptive to ongoing recruiting operations.
Under no circumstances should Marines allow an armed citizen to enter the recruiting office, or handle the citizen's weapon in any way, he wrote.
The memo was distributed as a Fast Response on Short Transition, or FROST call — a system used by Marines to disseminate information rapidly throughout a command or series of commands. The Army has issued a similar warning to its recruiters, Stars and Stripes reported.
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson Holmquist and Navy Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Randall Smith were killed in the July 16 shooting, which took place at the Navy Operational Support Center in Chattanooga. The shooter, Mohammad Abdulazeez, also fired rounds into a nearby recruiting station, wounding one Marine in the leg.
Since then, incidences of civilians guarding recruiting stations have been reported from Colorado Springs to Texas. Two veterans' organizations, the Oathkeepers and the Three Percenters, have actively encouraged their members to guard local stations in an effort they're calling Operation Warrior Guardian.
Oath Keepers Greg Schillen, left, and Adam Bulder stand guard in front of the military recruitment offices on July 22 in Burlington, Wash., with Schillen's two dogs Clyde, left, and Buddy.
Photo Credit: Scott Terrell / Skagit Valley Herald via AP
In Lancaster, Ohio, an armed man guarding an Army recruiting office was charged with a misdemeanor after accidentally firing his AR15 rifle on Thursday July 23, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Marine veteran Bradley Toler was one armed volunteer who was asked to leave the premises of a local recruiting station. A former infantry lance corporal who left the Marines in 2013, Toler went to his local Marine Corps recruiting office in Jacksonville, North Carolina, on Wednesday July 21 armed with a Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle and a Taurus Judge revolver.
He stood outside the station for about two hours. During that time, Toler said he was thanked by civilian and military passers-by and offered bottled water by passing drivers. Ultimately, though, property owner Coldwell Banker notified the Jacksonville Police, who asked him to leave.
While Toler said he left willingly, his belief in the effectiveness of armed volunteers was unshaken.
"The great thing about this county is we stood up without wanting anything," Toler, 25, said of the grassroots effort to guard recruiting stations. "The biggest way to substantially lower the possibility of an attack is to have your presence there."
"The great American people, tThe great thing about this county is we stood up without wanting anything," Toler, 25, said of the grassroots effort to guard recruiting stations. "The biggest way to substantially lower the possibility of an attack is to have your presence there."
Marine officials have not previously commented publicly on this trend.