Storm Chaser Arrested

| May 7, 2008 @ 11:10 pm | 3 Replies

Storm Chaser Brian Barnes was arrested while leading a storm chasing tour in Crane, Texas Monday night.

Here is his story, taken from WX-CHASE…

Dear All –

It finally happened, a storm chaser was arrested on May 06 for “storm chasing” and unfortunately it happened to me (while I was conducting a tour) and I spent the night in the Crane, TX lockup.

I’m not going to post all the fine details here and I’m going to ask you to please reserve your opinions until after the details come out (likely after I go back to court) – but here is the basics:

We were parked in a rest stop area south of Crane, TX with a developing wall cloud just to our due south and I was shooting video. The storm had already produced one brief tornado while it was about 15 miles west of Crane and I called that into the San Angelo WFO and they relayed the message to MAF and the storm was tornado warned.

I then drove east into town and then south until we found the rest area along the highway, we pulled into the rest area and pulled all the way over to the left side near some picnic tables with the intention of leaving plenty of space to allow other cars to pass through the rest area and to keep our tour customers safe from the traffic.

A cop didn’t like us being there and told us to leave. He was upset, nervous and very erratic. But the basic is that I wouldn’t leave and he decided to take me to jail – he said at the time (and on video) that it was
“for my safety”. I was on public property and I was legally parked and
doing nothing to break the law.

After we “core punched” the storm in the police truck (golf ball to tennis ball hail) and arrived in the flooded town of Crane, I was taken to a holding cell and it took the deputy 5 hours to “manufacture” a charge. He came up with this – “obstruction of a highway and/or passageway”.

Just so you know (and there is a LOT of photo and video evidence) I was not obstructing anything, in fact, I was a little perturbed before the arrest happened because cars were driving in front of my camera in the rest area –
so there was plenty of room. I also explained the storm situation to a
fire fighter from a nearby town and he was appreciative.

The local newspaper reporter was behind me and taking pictures and witnessed the entire thing and it was recorded “cleanly” on my video camera,
pictures/videos from my tour customers, etc… The newspaper guy was so
upset about it that he almost went to jail with me and the former sheriff of Crane County is my bondsman and he said the charges were “BS” and he’s a great guy.

Likewise, the people in Crane Texas are some of the nicest people that I have ever met. All that I met today (there were a lot, probably 85% of the
town) were very supportive and they all seemed extremely upset at their county law enforcement office.

So we are fighting this and it might get a bit ugly for me, but I at least hope that I have all the support from my fellow chasing friends and I truly hope that you’ll all support the storm chaser on this one.

I have released a small fraction of the video to the local media, but under the advise of my attorney, I am not going to youtube this until he gives me to okay…he hasn’t reviewed it yet, he’s in north Texas and I’m still down along I-20 tonight.

But, I’m sure when you see the video you’ll agree completely that I was
doing nothing illegal. Under the law (as it was recently explained to me)
a police officer can tell me to move, but he can’t arrest me if I decide to stay (which is why the charges were manufactured they way they were), and this will be considered a “wrongful arrest”.

I’m tired tonight so I’m hitting the sack. I refused all the food they
gave me and I didn’t even lay down on that “thing” that they had for inmates to sleep on because it was full of things like dried semen and God only
knows what else – so I slept standing up in the corner. I’ve got a
top-notch suite tonight at a 4-star, so I’m in the Jacuzzi in 10 minutes and then off to la-la land for awhile.

I’m going to work on putting something on ST in the next few days as well, along with some video from the local news stories happening in the Midland/Odessa areas.

Thanks to all.
Brian Barnes
Violent Skies Tours

BTW – the Crane County jail was “third world” at best, and it’s as close to being in a Mexican jail that I ever want to get!

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Category: Pre-November 2010 Posts

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Bill Murray is the President of The Weather Factory. He is the site's official weather historian and a weekend forecaster. He also anchors the site's severe weather coverage. Bill Murray is the proud holder of National Weather Association Digital Seal #0001 @wxhistorian

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