GWINNETT COUNTY, GEORGIA — A man strapped with wires caused a big scare at a Gwinnett County mall, police said.
They said 30-year-old Daniel Tudela, of Stone Mountain, was strapped with wires and electronic devices hanging from his body Sept. 13. He was headed toward the movie theater at Discover Mills.
“One would put together, and reasonably assume, that he is here to commit some type of heinous crime, deadly crime,” said Cpl. Ed Ritter with the Gwinnett County Police Department.
Police said that’s what the officers were prepared to confront after the mall employees called 911. Responding officers quickly determined the devices were not a threat.
According to a police report, Tudela told investigators the devices were part of his style and all of the gadgets were for personal use.
Still, police said on the heels of the mass shooting in Colorado and two days after the Sept. 11 attacks anniversary, the gadgets sparked concern.
“In the day of age that we’re in today, with terrorist activity, and dressing like one, one would assume that you are one,” Ritter said.
Police told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh they wanted to continue the investigation to make certain he wasn’t a threat. Police decided to charge Tudela this week with a misdemeanor for having a hoax device.
Kavanaugh went to Tudela’s home to get his side of the story, and a woman identifying herself as a friend said, “It’s no big deal. It’s no big deal.” She added she didn’t understand the police reaction to what Tudela was allegedly wearing.
On Wednesday afternoon, Kavanaugh spoke over the phone with Tudela’s attorney Regina Matthews. She said the gadgets were just toys to operate his cellphone and MP3 player.
She emailed a statement to Channel 2 Action News saying in part:
“This was an unfortunate arrest that was completely unwarranted. Family, neighbors and friends who know Mr. Tudela are expressing their concern and outrage over how such charges could be brought against someone who is kind, gentle and would never pose a risk of harm to anyone.”