News by VICE

146 Firearms Were Confiscated From One Guy After Workplace Shooting Threat Triggered Maryland's 'Red Flag' Law

His colleagues were unnerved and relayed the threats to their boss, who then contacted the police.

by Tess Owen
Sep 6 2019, 4:37pm

Police in Maryland confiscated 146 guns, including handguns, rifles, shotguns and an AK-47, this week from the home of a man who’d threatened to shoot up the industrial machine shop where he worked.

They discovered the arsenal in Anne Arundel County while serving an Extreme Risk Protection Order (also called a “Red Flag Order”) at 54-year-old Mark Edward Rutkowski’s residence after learning of the threats from his employer. Many of those firearms were registered to his elderly father, who lives with him.

Rutkowski regularly showed up to the Gischel Machine Shop drunk or high, according to Capital Gazette, which was itself the site of a mass shooting that left five dead in June 2018. But in recent weeks Rutkowski had allegedly started talking about carrying out a mass shooting — and even told his colleagues who he’d want to kill first.

His colleagues were unnerved and relayed the threats to their boss, who then contacted the police.

Rutkowski was arrested Tuesday, the same day that police executed the red flag order, and charged with one count of threatening mass violence, a misdemeanor that has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

At a bail review hearing on Wednesday, Ivan Greenwalat, the co-owner of the industrial shop, said he’d fired Rutkowski but feared he’d show up and try to do something violent. He has since filled out paperwork for a restraining order against Rutkowski, the Gazette reported.

Rutkowski insisted he was only joking. “I just said to one of my best friends, ‘I wish y’all were dead,’" said Rutkowski at the hearing, according to the Gazette. “I was just kidding.”

Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., have red flag laws on the books, which allow police to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed a danger to themselves or others. Ten of those states, including Maryland, passed those laws since the February 2018 massacre at the high school in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead. There have since been dozens of reports about how new red flag laws may have thwarted shootings. Police in Vermont, which has had a red flag law in effect since April 2018, seized guns from the family home of a middle schooler last December who was allegedly plotting a school shooting. And last month, police seized guns from a former Marine in Oregon who announced via loudspeaker at a right-wing rally in Portland that he wanted to “slaughter” antifa.

Maryland’s law went into effect in October 2018, and in the first three months, police executed more than 300 red flag orders.

Cover image: Handguns from US American arms manufacturer Smith & Wesson (S&W) at the comapany's stand at the IWA OutdoorClassics hunting and sporting weapons fair in Nuremberg, Germany, 05 March 2016. Photo by: Daniel Karmann/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

gun control
Mass Shootings
Mass gun violence
mass shooter
mass violence