South Sound News

Denied entry with a gun: Retired police officer sues Tacoma Dome

John Stray admits he'd never heard of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden, still he tried to enter the Tacoma Dome on the night of their concert Sept. 5.

Stray is a retired 35-year veteran of the Federal Way Police department and he was conducting a test.

Would the Tacoma Dome let a retired officer with a concealed weapons permit, bring his pistol inside?

Security said no, so Stray has filed a lawsuit.
"All I'm asking of the Tacoma Dome is to follow state law. If they want to follow state law that's one thing, but they can't just make it up."

If he had been inside that night, he might have seen the out-of-control fan that was captured on video and posted online. It's an example of one of the reasons the Dome bans firearms.

But Stray's lawsuit quote state law as saying:

"…such restrictions shall not apply to: Any pistol in the possession of a person licensed under RCW 9.41.070 or exempt from the licensing requirement."

Stray says he was testing the Tacoma Dome a few weeks ago, because in 2016 he was an active duty officer in plain clothes and denied the right to accompany students from the high school he served as school resource officer.

"I said what about a detective or somebody who's on duty, who's like I am in the performance of my duty. (The security chief) said nope, couldn't do it."

Stray says off duty officers don't have a problem with concealed carry at UW's Husky Stadium. UW Police confirm that they just ask officers carrying weapons to register with security before entering.

Stray acknowledges that following the state law would also allow civilians with concealed weapons permits to carry weapons inside the Tacoma Dome. "I do worry about that," he responded when asked about that prospect. But he continued, "35 years on the job, I never can say I had trouble with a concealed carry person. Would I want that necessarily as policy? I'm not sure but that's not the question right now. The question is are they following state law."

A Pierce County Superior Court judge will hear the lawsuit on Oct. 18.

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