Mellinger concerned about NAACP warning to people carrying weapons

·2 min read

Aug. 4—ANDERSON — The Madison County branch of the NAACP has issued a warning to people carrying a weapon to be careful during interactions with police.

The warning brought a response from Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger that he is concerned about the statement saying "a wrong move could cost you your life."

"The statement made right after this incident concerns me," Mellinger said following the shooting death of Elwood Police Officer Noah Shahnavaz during a traffic stop on Sunday.

"Because I do not believe officers will treat any law-abiding person differently," he said. "This young man, Noah, did nothing wrong, no mistakes tactically. He had zero chance. In my opinion the only way he could have avoided this was to not make the traffic stop."

NAACP President Bill Watson said in the statement that the senseless tragedy could cause law enforcement everywhere to take heightened caution when approaching individuals with guns.

"This right to carry a weapon without a permit may cost you your LIFE,' Watson said. "The Madison County NAACP is asking all individuals who carry weapons to be sensitive to the concerns of the law enforcement when you engage them with a weapon hanging out of your pockets, hip, or strapped across your chest."

Watson said since the state's new law that doesn't require a handgun permit went into effect there are people carrying weapons into public places.

Mellinger said officers train for tactical stops frequently, noting the only change might be heightened awareness not to take anything for granted.

He said that for 24 hours after the Elwood officer was shot, there were no traffic stops on the activity log.

"There was a terrible change in our law by not requiring a gun permit," Mellinger said. "I'm a little frustrated that people are being warned when interacting with police officers.

"The officers will be more careful," he said. "They do a good job of being aware of situations."

Mellinger said if someone has the mindset of killing someone that day, there is a good chance it will happen.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.