MUSKEGON County, Mich. — A soccer match between Western Michigan Christian and Freedom Christian was called off, Thursday evening.
The coach for Norton Shore’s Western Michigan Christian explained to FOX 17 why he ended the game. Coach David Hulings said a man in the crowd carrying a pistol was the reason.
About five minutes into the second half, Hudsonville’s Freedom Christian had a two point lead on WMC which remained scoreless.
Hulings said, “One of my assistant coaches came up and asked if it was legal to carry a gun on the field, on the soccer field.”
He said the assistant coach pointed out a spectator with a gun.
Hulings said he told the assistant coach, “Well, just go ask him to leave.”
“As the assistant coach went over to talk to him I could observe that he was pretty agitated about being asked to leave,” Hulings described.
Hulings said the man left for a moment.
“I turned around maybe four, five minutes later and there was the guy coming in. This time his holster was empty, and I didn’t know what that meant,” Hulings said.
“I didn’t know if he left with the gun, if he had the gun, where it was at,” Hulings explained.
“So at that point I thought, I’m going to err on the side of caution,” he added.
Hulings went to the visiting coach to forfeit the game, and both teams left the field. Prior to this, the police had also been called.
Was the man open carrying within his rights?
FOX 17 spoke with Phillip Hofmeister. He’s the president of Michigan Open Carry. Hofmeister said regardless of anyone’s right to bear arms, the school was within its legal right to ask the man to leave.
Hofmeister noted that it’s private property; it’s a private school. He said Michigan’s trespassing law is most relevant here. (He cited MCL 750.552.)
Coach Hulings believes there may have been a political motive behind the incident. Hulings doesn’t dispute that the man had a right to open carry.
“I do believe… think they were trying to make a statement. They had a video camera… or videotaping the whole thing,” Hulings said.
“I think he was grandstanding a little bit, but that was my interpretation. That was not my concern. My only concern was we asked someone to leave the field who got upset. He came back. I thought, there’s a potential here for problems. Let’s not, let’s not do anything with it,” he said.
Freedom Christian said both schools are “working closely to maintain a healthy and God honoring relationship.”