The private security firm that handcuffed and detained a journalist at yesterday’s Joe Miller town hall employs only veterans, doubles as an army surplus store and bail bond agency, and touts “security, surplus, survival” as its motto.
William Fulton, head of DropZone, told TPM today that his agency is all veterans, and mostly sells its army surplus stock to other veterans as well. He described how DropZone also handles VIP and concert security, bail bond enforcement, and the occasional domestic abuse case as well. Fulton noted that they were hired for the Republican Senate nominee’s town hall at Central Middle School in Anchorage because the school district requires security for private events.
Tony Hopfinger, the founder and editor of online news site the Alaska Dispatch, was handcuffed and detained by DropZone yesterday after repeatedly trying to question and videotape Miller.
Lt. Dave Parker, Public Information Officer for the Anchorage PD, told TPM that under Alaska law, non-law enforcement can conduct “private persons arrest, which is commonly called a citizens arrest,” when they witness a crime being committed. This, he said, is what happened at Miller’s event.
He also noted that the APD had “previously had contact with” DropZone, though would not go into specifics. But he added that in a city as small as Anchorage, there are limited options for private security firms so this is not unexpected.
A Google Streetview of the DropZone buillding, first flagged by The Daily Kos, depicts a pretty unimpressive establishment, with a camouflaged truck out front and a Gadsden flag waving in the window:
Mike Gerk, an apparent employee who lists DropZone as his employer on his MySpace page, is an ex-marine and ex-strip club bouncer in Anchorage. He posted pictures of him and two of his colleagues, each wearing “agent” shirts, aiming their guns at one “prisoner,” who in another photo (that has been taken down but is posted here) laying face-down on the ground. Another picture shows the “prisoner,” as Gerk describes him, being loaded into a DropZone SUV.
Hopfinger was released from DropZone’s custody when the Anchorage Police showed up. They did not charge him, and said they were deferring the case to the Anchorage District Attorney’s office.
Hopfinger did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.