Screencapture from an online video depicting a man with a fake grenade launcher. (YouTube.com)
PHOENIX - Police have arrested an Arizona man who filmed his 16-year-old nephew walking city streets dressed in a sheet and carrying a fake grenade launcher in an apparent bid to test police responses after the Denver theater shooting, authorities said on Wednesday.
Michael David Turley, 39, was arrested on Monday over the making of the video, in which an unidentified narrator says he aims to “find out how safe I really am” in Phoenix following the July Denver shooting that killed 12 people and wounded 58.
The video depicts a man with a fake grenade launcher walking around a Phoenix intersection in what appears to be a blue sheet with dark material covering his head and face. The filmmaker said it took 15 minutes for police to respond.
The amateur video, filmed eight days after the Colorado shooting at a screening of a Batman movie, was broadcast on YouTube and titled, “Dark Knight Shooting Response, Rocket Launcher Police Test.”
Turley was charged with knowingly giving a false impression of a terrorist act, endangerment, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and misconduct involving a simulated explosive.
He is being held in county jail on a $5,000 bond. If convicted, he faces up to 45 months in prison, said Maricopa County Attorney’s Office spokesman Jerry Cobb.
“We take something like this seriously,” Phoenix police spokesman Officer James Holmes said. “It wasn’t fun and games to all the people who were affected by this. We don’t behave like this in this country to prove a point.”
Police said officers reached the scene about three minutes after receiving numerous emergency calls from passers-by who said the person was pointing a weapon as they drove by.
The 16-year-old has not been arrested, Holmes said.
“The video told us what Turley was intentionally trying to do - creating a terrorist hoax for his own personal ideals,” he said.
An attorney for Turley could not be immediately reached for comment.