Leo Encounter in Northern VA


While I was shopping at Potomac Mills Mall (near the “Icings” store), around 7:15PM, I was approached by a 20 something’s white male asking me if I wanted to “buy any ‘E’”. I told him no. As soon as he got out of my line of sight and hearing range, I called the Prince William County Police non-emergency number to report it. I gave the description as a white male, 6’ (ish), 150 Lbs., wearing a black hat, striped polo shirt with black white & tan lines, and tan cargo pants. After we hung up, I walked back toward the food court. I saw the subject again, so I called the non-emergency number again and updated them on where he was. The dispatcher also transferred me to mall security. I was on the line with the dispatcher for mall security telling them the updated position as they were searching on camera.

I walked past the food court, when I saw the same guy again, but he was outside, walking back inside. I ran back to a security guard that I saw and told him that I saw the gentleman they were looking for. When I was walking with the security guard to the door, I was pointing out the guy and the guard was confused. He walked between us and I told him that he would have to come with us. He then ran away, and I gave chase. About 300 yards after we started, a PWC Officer grabbed my left shoulder. I immediately stopped and advised him that I have a concealed weapons permit and that I was carrying. He asked me where I was carrying it at, then went and removed my weapon from my IWB holster. I was then placed in handcuffs. The drug dealer was also caught a short while later. While I was being escorted back to the station in the mall, the second guy that was trying to sell (the brother of the first drug dealer) walked past me and said “look what the fuck you did”. At that point, I told the officer escorting me (while still in handcuffs) that he was the other seller. The officer grabbed him, as he tried o pull away. When the officer placed him in cuffs, I asked the officer why I was being detained. He advised me that I was being detained for the concealed weapon. The dealer, his brother and I were all escorted through the busy mall to the station inside the mall. The drug dealer remained without cuffs the entire time until he got back at the store front station, where he was found with a knife. I was sat in an interview room with a friend, away from the drug dealers. The officers then left the room and started talking to the other guys. When they came back in the room, they were asking each other if I was free to go. They were talking amongst themselves saying that they couldn’t hold me while they searched for the “tossed drugs”. (Apparently the dealers tried to say that I was trying to sell THEM drugs. The officers ran my permit and my name through NCIC, which came back valid and clear. I was then told that I was free to leave, and that Potomac Mills did not allow concealed carry, regardless if you have a permit or not. The officer also tried to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to carry at 7-11, because they sold alcohol. I corrected him, politely, by saying that only establishments that have a license from the ABC for ON SITE consumption and sale are off limits. I decided not to push that any more, as they were letting me go without a warning or anything. They just reinforced that there was a notice posted on the doors. When I left, I did not see the afore mentioned signs on the doors. I am going back tomorrow during the day with my camera to take pictures of the exact doors I went through. I also noticed that the mall DOES now serve alcohol in the food court, which I had not known about before I went, and before I was in cuffs walking under the sign. The cops were friendly after the fact, and after they found out that I was an MP in the Marines and Police Explorer before my service in the military.

Is this usual treatment of law-abiding gun owners in Virginia? I've never had any problems before...

I would expect that to be the norm for that situation

When You were detained you were actively agressing after someone. which I would not have attempted. He could have very well have been armed as well and willing to use it to get away. Best to have given his description and his location and let law enforcement handle that situation, since neither yourself or anyone else was being threatened by these individuals. I personally have never had any issue with law enforcement that resulted in my temporary detainment upon their being notified that i was armed. should you look at it from the officers point of view you were chasing someone in a public parking lot while armed, for his safety it is best to disarm you and place you in investigative detention until everything can be sorted out. Reporting the event to law enforcement and leaving it at that would have been your best option and the safest option for all parties involved.
XD, glad they didn't bother you more for the carrying at PM. I too noticed there are no "signs" on the doors, which I believe is what is stated as being needed to properly notify us. There are plaques on the wall at some of the entrances, maybe all of them, with the basic rules of the mall. No guns is like item 21 or something near the end of the list.

As 7-11, I wonder if they were referring to 7-11 having a no guns policy, but they have no signs/postings on the doors. I've read on some list that 7-11 is listed as a non-gun friendly company, and that technically they do not want people carrying in their stores. But I've open carried in my local one and never had anyone comment. I did have 3 teenagers with stunned looks on their faces while they stared at my gun while opening carrying once with my daughter there, I couldn't help but laugh on the inside, it's was a funny moment for sure. (they didn't know I was looking at their reactions, and they were busy talking about it with their eyes wide and locked on my hip, haha)
I agree with stumpjumper101.

I would add that it's prob best not to push the issue. If they don't post a sign, it's still legal to carry unless they ask you to leave. There was no real problem in the end so there is no need to give them an excuse to place a nice big sign.

I've always wondered what the deal is with alcohol in malls. I assume they keep it in the food court just like some restaurants don't allow you to take your drinks to the outside patio.
Absolutely NO disrespect meant by this comment, I wasn't there and I might have done the same thing in your shoes, but a few of my personal thoughts.

Just from how I understand Ohio law, especially when I'm armed, I cannot escalate a situation (running after someone), thats more of a LEO activity. Informing is good, getting a description is good, calling from a cell phone is good
"He then ran away, and I gave chase." Is going to get you in the "suspect" sights of most cops. They need to detain all involved (since you learned the bad guys favorite tool, reversing the victim - bad guy roles), they needed to detain everyone and then sort out the facts. They where very cool in not charging you. Yes, probably poor signage in the establishment, but thats settled with the D.A. and in the courts.
Just saying, I don't know, i might have done the same thing, I wasn't there, but thats the big warning in Ohio, CHL doesn't equal police powers or responsibilities. No violence was being committed and no one was in fear of serious bodily harm or death. So when I'm packing, which is about 100% of the time, I do have to watch how I react, because I will be judged in a much higher sense then unarmed people.
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Potomac Mills is on the VA Civil Defense Leagues list of gun UNfriendly establishments:
Link Removed
I also never noticed any sort of signs posted on the doors, or at any placards..going to have to look harder too,

XD, im an MP too i just wish VA viewed that as "law enforcement" so us MP's can carry period w/o permit etc...
This is what you can expect when you try to be a cop.

Your piece is there for your personal protection in case your life is threatened. Next time call the cops or the security, do your part as a good citizen and give them the description and details and then go about your business.

Not trying to be hostile or anything, but trying to keep you out of civil court or loosing your CHP.
Yup, it feels good to get rid of the bad guys, but it must be done from a distance by civilians. Remember the police have to react to the situation. As far as they could tell this could have been a drug deal gone bad and you were one of the dealers looking to get even. You being armed in this situation… well it made them uneasy. I would feel the same way. I don’t know you well nor do the police. They will at the expense of hurt feelings, and perhaps infringing on your rights, protect themselves and each other at all costs. So I have to agree with the other posters in that this encounter with LEO while not all that pleasant should be viewed as a learning experience. In the end it all worked out. The good guy :pleasantry: went free and the bad guys will (I hope) face justice.

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