An Army soldier armed with a handgun was arrested and charged with a felony after he and a group of men were seen wearing fatigues and carrying firearms near a Black Lives Matter rally in Troy, NY, over the weekend.
Troy Deputy Police Chief Dan DeWolf praised his officers for arresting the men, claiming they “averted what may have become a violent encounter that day,” according to local media.
Noah Latham, 22, is stationed in Fort Drum, a three-hour drive from where he was arrested. He’s been charged with a single felony count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, which carries a maximum 15-year jail sentence.
Media reports also cite the arrest report, which claims Latham was in possession of a “Glock-style automatic handgun.”
The ambiguity of Latham’s charges is reason for concern, according to Steve Felano of the New York gun rights group 2ANYS. The charges appear to stem from Section 400 of New York State Penal Law, and Felano said they likely relate to not having a valid pistol permit or the weapon not appearing on the permit as a possessed weapon.
Still, “it is certainly suspicious that there is no mention whether or not the soldier holds a valid pistol permit,” Felano told GunsAmerica.
When asked to clarify Latham’s charges, the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s office told GunsAmerica that they do not comment on ongoing investigations.
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Latham was with several other men who were also carrying firearms near the BLM rally. The other men were also taken into custody, but no charges have yet been filed.
Police have not said why they think the men were in Troy, but one official told the media that the men arrested with Latham are from the surrounding county.
Latham was an advocate for Second Amendment rights. He led a petition drive to make Jefferson County a Second Amendment sanctuary and garnered 2,326 signatures. His efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, though Jefferson County did pass a resolution in support of the Second Amendment.
Felano believes Latham’s advocacy work could have contributed to his charges.
“I would not be surprised to learn that this is really about First Amendment retaliation for past Second Amendment advocacy,” he told GunsAmerica.
Latham is a member of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum in Jefferson County. He is a specialist E-4 who flies drones for the division.
“We are aware of it. We’ll let it play out,” Major Harold Huff, a spokesman for Fort Drum, told local media regarding Latham’s incarceration in the county jail.
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden put out a statement praising the police for taking the group into custody.
“I applaud the rapid response of Troy police and our law enforcement partners to an incident involving several suspicious individuals carrying handguns,” the statement read. “These individuals have been detained and are being questioned by Troy police. Thank you to Chief Owens, our police officers, and assisting agencies in response to this incident, and their professionalism demonstrated throughout Sunday’s rally.”
Latham is being held without bail at the Rensselaer County jail.
The Troy police department refused to release the report of this incident to GunsAmerica, citing an ongoing investigation.