COCHRANE — A man who walked into a meeting with a revolver and a shotgun ended up leaving peacefully, thanks to some quick thinking and calm heads.
Jack Tennant says 18 people were just starting a meeting at Weedon Hall, north of Cochrane, last Tuesday when a man walked in with a bag, pulled out a revolver and started waving it around.
“He said, ‘I have a story to tell and you are going to listen’ and said he had done some time in Drumheller when he was 16,” said Tennant.
The man, who also had a shotgun and was dressed in a long black coat, told the group that God was instructing him.
“My thought was I’ve got to somehow get in his face and interrupt that thinking,” said Tennant, 73.
He lied, telling the man that he, too, had served time in prison, which caused the gunman to pause and listen.
“I approached him and I said …‘you have a story to tell, no one is going to listen with all this stuff on the table,” he said.
“I said, ‘put the guns in the bag and I’ll give them back to you after you tell us a story.”’
The man unloaded the firearms, which contained four revolver shells and three shotgun shells, and returned them to the bag.
While Tennant locked the bag inside his truck, several others at the hall began talking to the man.
“At the end of the meeting he ended up helping to fold up tables — he even had a group hug,” he said. “You feel sorry for the guy — he didn’t intend to hurt anyone.”
Mounties, who had arrived immediately and cordoned off the area, caught up with Tennant, who handed over the bag of guns.
Tennant, who is owner and publisher of the Cochrane Eagle newspaper, said the incident ended peacefully thanks to the help of everyone at the meeting.
“Everyone just sat there totally calm and just listened to the guy — it was amazing,” he said.
RCMP said the man made no explicit threats and left the meeting without incident.
Anthony John Allen, 50, of Bragg Creek, Alta., is charged with two counts of pointing a firearm, two counts of carrying a weapon while attending a public meeting, two counts of carry a concealed weapon, and two counts of unlawful confinement and possess a loaded restricted firearm.