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Man attempts forced entry into Utah gay club

A man attempted to force his way into Club Try-Angles on April 5 around 9 p.m, police said. Salt Lake City Police dispatchers received multiple calls throughout the day about a man carrying a rifle case and trespassing on private property in the area of Club Try-Angles (900 S. 250 West).

Donald Bickell, 51, tried to enter the bar carrying the rifle case, police said. As he was turned away by the doorman, Matt Mulliner, Bickell put the rifle case up to Mulliner’s face and told him, “I am about to end your life,” Mulliner said.

“I was just outside the bar when he walked up to me and asked me for a cigarette. I told him I didn’t have one and that he was not going to be entering the bar with that bag,” Mulliner said. “It was at that point that I felt very threatened and thought to myself, ‘this man is going to try and get in the bar and hurt everyone inside.'”

Mulliner went back into the club, locked the door and called police. The suspect was located nearby. Officers said they found no rifle in the rifle case. However, they did find an almost empty bottle of vodka and a utility knife. Bickell was booked into the Salt Lake County jail on suspicion of aggravated assault.

“He didn’t appear drunk. He was lucid and that’s what was so scary,” Mulliner said. “There was something heavy in that bag that filled it out. It wasn’t empty and he was holding it like he was going to use it.”

Mulliner said the man did not use gay slurs or appear to know one way or the other about the bar being a gay bar.

Also on Thursday, April 9, a volunteer at Our Store, a thrift shop used to raise money for the People With AIDS Coalition of Utah, was punched in the face and kicked in the side after he attempted to thwart a robbery by two men.

After the two adult men purchased a table, Tom Shoemake, the volunteer, noticed an empty stereo box and confronted them about it, police said. One of the suspects punched and kicked him, then fled west on 300 South. Their vehicle is described as an older white Jeep Cherokee. One suspect is a white male, in his mid 20s, 6 feet tall with a medium build. The second suspect is also a white male in his mid 20s, 5 feet, 6 inches tall with a medium build. Both were described as having brown hair, and wearing white T-shirts and baggy jeans.

The victim was transported to the hospital with a minor injury to the face. Shoemake also said on Facebook that he had broken ribs.

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2 Comments

  1. I am surprised that “Salt Lake City Police dispatchers received multiple calls throughout the day about a man carrying a rifle case and trespassing on private property in the area of Club Try-Angles” and didn’t inform the caller(s) that carrying a rifle case was irrelevant to the crime of trespass.

    In fact, the Salt Lake City Police Department learned that hard lesson in the lawsuit Lund v. Salt Lake City Corp., Civil No. 2:07-CV-0226BSJ (2008) where U.S District Court for the District of Utah Senior Judge Bruce S. Jenkins wrote that “[b]y itself, mere possession of a firearm in public is not unlawful and may well represent the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, § 6 of the Utah Constitution (recognizing the ‘individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the state, as well as for other lawful purposes,’ subject to the power of the Legislature to define the ‘lawful use of arms.’). See District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783, 2799 (2008) (‘There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.’); see also Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-10-500 to 530 (2003 & Supp. 2008) (Utah Firearms Act). In Utah, the carrying of a concealed weapon on one’s person in public is a matter of State licensing and regulation, and is routinely permitted pursuant to the applicable State statute. See Utah Code Ann. §§ 53-5-701 to 711 (Supp. 2008). The legislature has explicitly denied local governmental entities such as Salt Lake City the power to limit or restrict possession of a firearm on public property: ‘Unless specifically authorized by the Legislature by statute, a local authority or state entity may not enact, establish, or enforce any ordinance, regulation, rule, or policy pertaining to firearms that in any way inhibits or restricts the possession or use of firearms on either public or private property.’ Utah Code Ann. § 53-5a-102 (Supp. 2008); see University of Utah v. Shurtleff, 2006 UT 51, ¶ 11, 144 P.3d 1109, 1113 (observing that the enactment of § 53-5a-102 in 2004 ‘dramatically altered the legal landscape, rendering it clear that Utah’s firearms statutes are universally applicable’). The legislature has authorized municipalities only to ‘regulate and prevent the discharge of firearms, rockets, powder, fireworks or any other dangerous or combustible material.’ Utah Code Ann. § 10-8-47 (2007). As articulated by the Utah Legislature, public policy in this State may fairly be read to condone and even encourage gun ownership and the lawful possession and carrying of firearms in public places. Salt Lake City’s asserted governmental interest in its police officers’ response to a report of a ‘man with a gun’ in a public park cannot be weighed in isolation from this oft-emphasized public policy. In that context, there may well be more individual constitutional rights at stake than the Fourth Amendment freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.”

    State laws protect generally the possession of a weapon by a citizen who is at a location where alcoholic beverages are served or who is consuming an alcoholic beverage, but the possession is unlawful when the citizen is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance with “the same level of influence or blood or breath alcohol concentration” that is unlawful when driving a motor vehicle (BAC of 0.08 grams or greater).

    All in all, however, the statement by the alleged perpetrator that “I am about to end your life” while “reaching for the rifle bag slung over his shoulder” changed the man’s presumption of lawful possession of a weapon. The club employees acted correctly (they have the right to determine who may enter the club). The SLCPD employees acted correctly (they arrested the alleged perpetrator for trespass and aggravated assault). But, readers shouldn’t presume that the possession of a firearm (or an empty firearm holster or bag) even at a location where alcoholic beverages are served is a crime by itself. Our state and federal laws demand otherwise.

  2. Just… WOW.

    David, you are schooling us? Telling us fear of a potential weapon in the hand of an aggressive/unbalanced person is irrelevant until they state/use the weapon?

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