Aurora teen walks on busy streets with shotgun, videotapes encounter with police

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AURORA, Colo. -- A teenager carrying a loaded shotgun on a busy street in Aurora was stopped by police. But he says he should not have been stopped and he videotaped his encounter with officers. Police have a different opinion.

The 18-year-old posted his cell phone video online. He spoke exclusively with reporter Dave Young Friday.

Young also spoke with police as the two sides debated open carry gun laws and public safety.

Steve Lohner claims he was well within Colorado law while he walked in the area of South Buckley Road and East Iliff Avenue while carrying a shotgun.

Police who were called to the scene say they weren't able to determine if he was doing it legally. Lohner refused to show them an ID to prove he's 18.

"I simply carry this for the protection of myself and those around me," Lohner says.

His shotgun is a Stoeger P-350 12 gauge.

"I've been stopped close to a dozen times for this and this is actually the first time I've been forced to provide ID," he says.

The teen says he's on a campaign to call attention to open carry laws. "I feel like a lot of people now they see a weapon like that and they think, you know, James Holmes or Sandy Hook,"

Lohner says that's why he started walking along major streets with his gun.

"It's alarming to the citizens -- alarming enough to where they call," says Aurora police spokesman Frank Fania.

Colorado law backs up Aurora police when asking to see an ID while investigating a possible crime.

"He may be within his rights and legal, within the law to carry this gun but if we're investigating it and he refuses to cooperate that may violate other municipal laws," Fania says.

In fact, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that police who are investigating a suspected crime can require an ID from people reasonably believed to have information or  were involved with that crime.

In this case police couldn't even determine if Lohner, who they determined looks younger than 18, was old enough to legally possess the weapon.

Lohner says, "The police treat open carry like you're a criminal until proven innocent."

But police say it raises questions of public safety and takes officers off of other calls. "It ties up our resources whether you're right or wrong," Fania says.

Lohner, who just turned 18, plans to continue his protest walks. "If enough people were to lawfully open carry in those areas and do it in a safe and lawful manner then these people would end up feeling comfortable around it."

The teen admits that the Aurora theater shooting makes police in the city cautious.

Police say they have to respond to 911 calls when people call about what Lohner is doing. They reiterate they may be getting pulled away from other real, life-threatening situations.

We spoke to Lohner's mother and she told us she is concerned about his safety.


  • Keith David

    This tool needs to stop what he is doing. He is making myself and other law abiding firearms owners look like loons. He deserves to be issued a citation or something for refusing to show ID which is required under Colorado law.

  • Soldier

    Last time I checked, police were only able to demand ID for a crime, not a investigation to see if a crime is actually taking place. Stop issuing a fishing license to police to see if they can dig deep enough to criminalize a person’s behavior no matter the circumstances. After all were not stupid, if police actually believed a crime was underway, that person would have been at gun point, not being asked for ID until he was in custody and the crime scene was secure.

    Standing up for law enforcement isn’t predicated on first believing the law benefits you. Like it or not, the kid wasn’t breaking any laws. Oh no, it’s a gun, lol.

  • Attorney

    4 elements of obstruction
    (1) A police officer engaged in the performance of a duty;
    (2) An act, or perhaps an omission, by the accused which obstructs or hinders the officer in the performance of that duty;
    (3) Knowledge by the accused of facts comprising element ; and
    (4) Intent to obstruct or hinder the officer by the act or omission constituting element
    Officers had no crime to investigate, only a suspicious person report. Only investigating actual crimes are the officers authorized to demand ID and expect the court to support their criminal investigation. The defendant had the right to offer passive resistance and asked the officers several times what crime he was being investigated for to comply with their request for identification. When the defendant demanded to be released if not being detained, the officers made up the charge of obstruction to illegally detain and further investigate the individual.

    Case will be dismissed – retrain the officers or fire them for violating his civil rights

  • tfeist

    video taping while open carrying is smart with the extra risk you have advising criminals you are armed

    do you have to advise police you are taping?

    what r the elements for false imprisonment and depriving an individual their right to travel freely once a crime cannot be established? or do they have carte blanche

  • allymis

    You do not have to give them your name or address unless they decide to file a police report to the district attorney’s office for a violation of criminal code.

    You also do not have to go with them unless you are under arrest or they have a warrant or writ signed by a judge with your legal name on it.

    Police do have the authority to stop and search people suspected of a crime, but police must cite the legal justification when asked for the search, and the reason you were specifically targeted.

    They cannot take any action against you solely because you refused to speak to them.

    If the police officer is ‘fishing for a crime’, tell them “I have nothing to say to you” and repeat after each question by the officers.(they have a hard time understanding civil rights and need to be told usually more then once that you are not participating in their fishing trip)

  • Eric Powell

    Could have been handled like this professional law enforcement officer handled it.

    its a ‘so what,..’ until a crime is observed and none was. The real crime was the false police report of citizen being alarmed. Just stop the officer at the point he states ‘It’s not a crime but you are causing alarm to people.” What behavior did the alarmed citizen legally specify that caused the alarm? Just stating I am alarmed isn’t legal justification as yuppies and anti-gun freaks are alarmed we have open carry laws and try to sick the police on anyone they disagree with.

    isn’t there a multi-lawyer legal team / filter at 911 centers to filter out these bogus calls for police?

    hello 911,.. I am alarmed
    911 – .um, sir/mam,.. has a crime been committed?
    caller,.. um, I see a gun
    911 – that isn’t a crime, wasting 911 time with bogus calls is
    911 – call us when you actually see a crime

    • Bubble Buster

      No there isn’t. Police have to respond to calls of a 9 year old looking at a 70 year old as he rides his bike down the street because she felt she was being harassed. Same with the calls like, “Someone is parked on the street in front of my house. I’ve never seen the car before. Someone is sitting in it, and I think it’s suspicious”. Every call that comes in requires a Police Officer respond to the scene. So someone calling stating they see someone with a gun walking down the street, will also require a Police response.

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