An 84-year-old former police officer and veteran of the Korean War, who was working as a school crossing guard, was fired and had his guns confiscated after a waitress overheard parts of a conversation he was having with a friend inside a diner.
Stephen Nichols got the job as a crossing guard because he loves kids, and after his wife passed away, he needed something to occupy his time and his heart.
While he was at a local diner, Nichols was speaking to a friend about a school resource officer who was constantly leaving his post to go get coffee in the morning. Nichols said he was worried that somebody would come and “shoot up the school” while the officer was on one of his coffee runs.
That’s the part of the conversation that the waitress overhead and what she reported to the police.
A “school shooting.”
Now, Nicholas has lost his job, and his guns and gun license were seized under “red flag laws.” All because some waitress in a local diner overheard part of a conversation that was taken out of context, and then reported it to the authorties.
Now this man’s life is ruined.
Nichols said the waitress made a complaint to Tisbury Police about what she overheard and on the strength of that, Saloio and another officer relieved Nichols of his crossing guard duties while he was in the midst of performing them and subsequently drove to his home and took away his firearms license and guns.
“He came up and told me what I said was a felony but he wasn’t going to charge me,” Nichols said of Saloio.
The confiscated guns were later turned over to Nichols’ son-in-law, Nichols told The Times.
Asked if he was given a letter or any paperwork for the seizure of his license, Nichols said,
“No he just told me to hand it over so I took it out of my wallet and handed it to him.”
Nichols said he has been licensed for firearms since 1958.
He said he didn’t receive any paperwork or receipts for the seizure of his guns, either.
In a lengthy interview with The Times, Nichols explained his concern about Tisbury School.
“When I was in the United States Army, and it wasn’t just me, it’s anybody who’s in the United States service, if you are on guard duty for eight hours, you didn’t leave that position,” Nichols said. “And I’m just so accustomed to that, that when I see someone who’s suppose to be protecting kids…leave the school unguarded — if you’re on guard duty, you stay there.”
Tisbury School Principal John Custer told The Times he was familiar with Nichols as a crossing guard but when asked if he knew of the Nichols’ situation, Custer responded by saying crossing guards are “hired, trained and scheduled, entirely by the police department.”
He identified the school resource officer as Scott Ogden. Asked if anyone had complained about Ogden going on coffee breaks, Custer said, “none whatsoever.”
A message left for Ogden at the Tisbury Police Department was not immediately returned.
Linda Jean’s owner Marc Hanover said he’s known Nichols for decades and vouched for his integrity. He described the situation as “absolutely outrageous.” He said he believes one of his servers “overreacted.” Hanover said he spoke with the restaurant patron who had conversed with Nichols at the time of the alleged threats.
“He assured me there was never a threat made,” Hanover said. [MV Times]
The friend, who was speaking with Stephen Nicholas at the diner, said at no time did Mr. Nicholas make a threat. He said this whole thing is “absurd.” Nicholas was actually expressing concern over the children’s safety, and now he’s been fired and his life’s work of being a police officer has been disrespected and dragged through the mud.
All becasuse some stupid nosy waitress overheard parts of a conversation and reported it to the “gestapo authorties” in tyranical Massachusetts.
That patron, Edgartown resident Andy Marcus, described the situation as “absurd.” Marcus confirmed Nichols did not threaten the school but pointed out that Nichols thought Ogden was having coffee at Xtra Mart and leaving the students potentially exposed. Marcus said he has known Nichols for years and often talks with him at the counter of Linda Jean’s. He said nobody at that restaurant but one server holds the opinion Nichols possibly posed a threat to the Tisbury School. Marcus said in addition to being a longtime special police officer, Nichols was a court officer and a constable.
“He loves kids,” Marcus said. “It’s almost like of all the people…”
Nichols said he’s never been accused of threatening a school and never had a firearms violation. “I’ve got no record of any violations,” he said.
Nichols said he never carries guns outside the house and would like to have his license and his guns back, but the fate of the guns may be sealed. “My grandson is manager of a gun shop in Worcester, Mass and he’s going to be allowed to come down and take the weapons and sell them for me,” he said.
Nichols said he has 11 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. “I would never, ever, ever, harm a child,” he said.
Nichols lost his wife two years ago and values his crossing guard work as a connection to the outside world. “I just need something to do to get out of the house and I love the kids,” he said. [MV Times]
I’ve seen a lot of really disturbing “red flag” stories over the past couple months, but this one here takes the cake.
I hope and pray Mr. Nichols gets his job back and his guns, too.
I also hope he receives an apology from the monsters who have disrespected him. This is a case that should go all the way to the SCOTUS to challenge the legitimacy of “red flag laws.”
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