DEARBORN, Mich. – Two men who walked into the Dearborn police station in February armed and wearing tactical vests were sentenced Friday to time behind bars, Chief Ronald Haddad said.
Brandon Vreeland, 40, of Jackson, and James Craig Baker, 24, of Leonard, were arrested Feb. 5 after they filmed themselves walking into the police station with guns and tactical vests.
Vreeland was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon, felony resisting and opposing an officer, and disturbing the peace, police said. He was sentenced to a minimum of nine months in prison and a maximum of five years in prison, Haddad said.
Baker was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon, police said. He was sentenced to nine months in the Wayne County Jail and three years' probation, Haddad said.
"The ultimate objective is public safety for everyone, including police officers," Haddad said.
Men pulled over in tactical vests, masks
Police were called to a shopping district at Ford Road and Southfield Freeway Feb. 5 when somebody reported seeing two men in a car wearing tactical vests and masks. A Dearborn police sergeant on patrol said he saw the men in a car near a park three miles away and pulled them over.
The men were wearing heavy tactical vests, and the passenger was wearing a balaclava mask that covered his face, the sergeant said. He refused to speak to the sergeant, police said.
"Let me go on my way," one of the men said during the traffic stop. "Let me be free to go, (because) we've broken no laws. This, you know this, this is an illegal detention and you'd better get your s--- straight, (because) we're done. ... Oh, I will file a complaint."
They were released and drove to the Dearborn police station, where they started filming, police said. In the video, one of the men said he was going to file a complaint because they were "illegally pulled over." He said they feared for their lives during the traffic stop.
Armed encounter at Dearborn police station
Haddad said the men entered the Dearborn Police Station lobby armed with a shoulder mounted firearm, handguns and recording equipment.
Police said their response when they saw the heavily armed men walking into the police station was to protect themselves.
"Dude, put that on the ground," a police officer said. "Put it on the ground. I will put a round in you, sir."
Detroit saw a shootout in a precinct about six years ago.
"What the hell is the matter with you?" an officer said. "Put it down, barrel down. Set it down. Step back."
Dearborn police arrested the two men, and Lt. Gary Mann said the on-duty officers showed considerable restraint.
"It's terrifying," Mann said. "There's been so many attacks on police officers nationwide over the past year or two that they feared for their safety, I'm sure."
Baker appeared first before the judge to be arraigned.
Sgt. Carpenter of the Dearborn police spoke at length about why a high bond should be set.
Carpenter said that since the incident, both Baker and Vreeland have organized other individuals to carry out similar acts and called the men “professional provocateurs.”
Carpenter said some 7,000 text messages have been investigated between Vreeland and Baker about their “protests” and taking advantage of “Trumpophobia” by wearing full Muslim robes and carrying AK-47s at demonstrations.
“There’s discussion of having a death wish, making funeral arrangements and embracing the idea of being known as the public enemy,” Carpenter said.
The defense attorney, who represented both men, argued that they are well-known activists and that a high bond would be the same as a political witch hunt.
Bond was set at $50,000, cash or surety, for Baker, and $20,000, cash or surety, for Vreeland. Both men must turn over all their weapons if they post bond and must wear a GPS tether. Another condition of bond is that they may not have contact with one another.