Worker, Threatened by Dakota Pipeline Protesters, Pulls AR

Worker, Threatened by Dakota Pipeline Protesters, Pulls AR
Thompson pulled an AR rifle and retreated into a river when he says he was approached by about 300 protesters who then set his truck on fire.photo from guns.com

As protests in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline construction become more heated, it has been announced that a pipeline worker who was detained last week for pulling a gun on a group of protesters will not face any charges.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department said in a release on Tuesday that Kyle Thompson acted in self-defense during the incident.

Last Thursday, Thompson was assigned with the task of taking photos of damaged equipment near the construction entrance on Thursday, where hundreds of protesters were gathered, according to this story from guns.com. Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said Thompson works for Leighton Security, a Texas-based security firm contracted to protect the pipeline equipment.

Thompson provided his own account of what happened next in a lengthy Facebook post, which you can read here.

In it, he says he was asked to get pictures “of some equipment that was on fire so I attempted to go and do just that, nothing more nothing less.”

This guns.com story says Thompson disguised himself so he wouldn't be identified by protesters as a pipeline employee.

“I stayed on 1806 and the approach to where the equipment was the entire time, other than when I was avoiding people on foot and forced off the road by vehicles,” Thomson writes.

Thompson attempted to leave but his vehicle, a 2500 Chevy truck, was damaged and run off the road and through a fence by another vehicle, where it became disabled, the story says. That's when Thompson decided to pull an AR rifle from the truck.

“I drew out my rifle after my vehicle was disabled and over 300 protesters were rapidly approaching my location, a few had knives and were dead set on using those knives,” he writes. “I slowly retreated into the water (of a nearby river) so they couldn’t surround me and overtake my rifle to use against me.”

Thompson didn’t fire any shots and says the rifle hadn’t been fired in three months at least. Initial reports said Thompson had fired at least one shot from the rifle. He later turned the rifle over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs when he was taken into custody.

“A protester did shoot a flare at me while I was retreating into the water,” Thompson writes. “That truck was set on fire while I was still there.”

On the same day, 141 people were arrested as authorities tried to push out protesters who have occupied the area, who say the pipeline is being built on grounds of both historical and sacred significance to Native Americans. Additional, protesters say the environmental hazards caused by such pipelines (one of which on the east coast experienced a severe breach this week) and the possibility of a spill will be catastrophic. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and reservation, which is located about one mile from the construction site, say the pipelines will contaminate their drinking water and pollute the Missouri River.

During the mass arrest on October 22, protesters were attacked with pepper spray, rubber bullets, sonic cannons, and batons by dozens of police officers in full tactical gear supported by military-grade vehicles, according to this report from theintercept.com.