PHOENIX - A Tempe man is in custody for allegedly pointing a loaded AR-15 rifle toward a woman and her teenage daughter inside Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Phoenix police say 54-year-old Peter Nathan Steinmetz was arrested Friday and faces two counts of disorderly conduct with a weapon. He is director of the neuroengineering program at Barrow Neurological Institute, according to his biography posted on the institute's website.
According to a court document, Steinmetz was carrying a rifle and stopped in front of Terminal 4's "B'' passenger gates.
"It certainly was concerning to other passengers at the airport, not knowing why this individual was walking around with an assault rifle slung over his arm," Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos told CBS affiliate KPHO. However, he pointed out that guns are not restricted in that area of the airport.
It was when Steinmetz allegedly removed the rifle from his shoulder, causing the muzzle to face a mother and her 17-year-old daughter, that he was arrested. The women told police they feared for their lives.
Steinmetz told police he only came to the airport to buy a cup of coffee.
Steinmetz's bond was set at $5,000 Monday at his initial court appearance.
Martos said this is not the first time that Steinmetz has brought a weapon to the airport. He told KPHO officers previously questioned the man last November, when he picked up his wife from the airport armed with an assault rifle. This happened only a few days after a TSA agent was shot to death by a gunman at Los Angeles International Airport.
According to Martos, Steinmetz told officers he was exercising his right to bear arms.
Julie Sanchez, who was at the airport on Monday waiting to pick up a relative, told KPHO that this was no place to make a political statement, especially one involving weapons. "I know that he does have the right to do that," said Sanchez. "But I just feel he has other ways, other options, to prove his point."
Steinmetz is due back in court Thursday morning, and has been ordered to surrender his weapons, reports the station.