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Brain Scientist Pointed AR-15 at Women in Phoenix Airport: Cops

A brain scientist was arrested on suspicion of pointing a rifle toward a woman and her 17-year-old daughter inside a busy Phoenix airport terminal, police said Monday. Peter Steinmetz, 54, who works for the Barrow Neurological Institute, removed the AR-15 assault rifle from over his shoulder in a Starbucks at Sky Harbor International Airport on Friday and pointed it in the direction of the women, Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department said in a statement. Arizona law permits the carrying of semi-automatic weapons in public areas, including the non-secure zones of airports.

“Officers spoke with the victims who indicated they were in fear for their safety. In addition, officers reviewed video footage of the incident,” Martos said. “Based on this information, officers arrested and booked Mr. Steinmetz on one count of Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon a Class 6 felony.” A statement from Dignity Health's St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, which includes the Barrow Institute, confirmed Steinmetz was “employed as a researcher,” adding: “We are aware of the situation and are taking it very seriously. At present this issue is being handled by Human Resources and our policy is not to comment on HR matters.”

— Alastair Jamieson and Liza Torres