Traffic ticket, harassment from tenants add insult to injury
By Roger McCredie- After five weeks of self-imposed sentry duty in front of a local armed forces recruiting office, one veteran says he has had to abandon his post due to attempts on his life by for-real Islamic terrorists.
Adding insult to injury, says recently-discharged vet Rob Medley, were daily insults and abuse from patrons of Regent Park Early Childhood Development Center , as well as scrutiny and social media criticism from a city council candidate who works for the brokerage firm Edward Jones & Co., both of which businesses are housed in the same cluster of buildings as the recruitment office.
Medley, who is fully licensed to carry the firearms he used during his watchdog stint, volunteered to guard the local recruiting office shortly after the July 16 attacks on a recruiting center and a U.S. Navy reserve installation in Chattanooga, TN. Four marines at the recruiting office were killed outright in those attacks and a sailor at the reserve center was fatally wounded. A police officer was also wounded but recovered. The shooter, a man identified as Muhammed Youssef Abdulazeez, was also killed. Abdulazeez has yet to be positively identified as a member of any terrorist organization but according to the FBI his computer showed he had been searching for “religious justification for the use of violence.”
As a matter of policy, no weapons are allowed in military recruitment centers, hence the four marines killed in Chattanooga were unarmed. It was this factor that prompted Medley to assume the role of protector for the Asheville office. “Those guys were sitting ducks and somehow [Abdulazeez] knew that,” he said.
Medley told the Tribune that about two weeks after he began mounting guard things began to happen to him.
First, he said, several “middle-Eastern spotters” began circling the building, watching him and taking pictures of him and the building [Service personnel] are trained to recognize these types,” he said. “Their job is to identify and intimidate.” Medley said the spotters all drove “high-end” vehicles with tinted windows.
“One of them, a middle-Eastern looking gentleman, stopped and I approached his vehicle. He rolled down his window and I asked if I could help him. He said ‘I go school.’ I told him ‘There’s no school here.’ He drove off,” Medley said.
But shortly thereafter, Medley returned to his truck to find the battery cables cut.
Medley said he felt certain the spotters had followed him after dark and noted where he lived. A few mornings later he began pulling out of his driveway only to find that his brakes didn’t work. The only way he could stop his vehicle, he said, was to guide it into a nearby ditch. On examining the truck, he found the brake lines had been cut.
Medley fixed everything and continued to report for guard duty. One evening he found the word “PIG” spray painted on the back of his house.
“My yard is fenced,” Medley said.”They obviously wanted to show me they not only knew where I lived but they could go on my property whenever they wanted to.”
Medley said it would be logical for a militant Islamist to write “PIG” on his house “because of course they consider pigs unclean and they’d regard that as a really huge insult. At the same time, though, he said, he had not ruled out the possibility that the paint vandalism was home-grown.
“I caught a huge amount of flak from local people,” he said. “They felt I was taking the law into my own hands and that I was a danger to bystanders and people in the park [Regent’s Park, the office district which houses the recruiting station.] Women who had kids in the day care center in the same building would ride by every single day and yell at me and flip me off. They’d tell me to go home, that I was dangerous to their kids and had no business there. I felt I was protecting their kids by being there. They and some of the daycare people were really vicious,” he said.
Also in the same business park is a branch office of the brokerage firm Edward Jones & Co. City Council candidate Rich Lee, an Edward Jones financial advuisor, works in that office and Medley said Lee also took pictures of him, which he later put on Facebook “along with some really trashy talk about me.”
Later, Medley said, Lee came out and spoke with him, saying he hoped there was no misunderstanding about the picture taking, “But I had already seen what he posted,” Medley said. “I told him, ‘Rich, you’re a coward. If you disagree with what I’m doing, come tell me to my face; don’t hide behind a keyboard.”
That wasn’t Lee’s recollection of events. He told the Tribune, “I’ll check if I still have the picture. I deleted it off Facebook when people started piling on Rob and misinterpreting my comments, but it might still be on my phone.
“I appreciate you reaching out to me, rather than just posting some speculation,” Lee said.
As for Medley, his problems weren’t over. Apparently overnight, persons unknown removed his license plate. “I hadn’t noticed,” he said, “until I got out into traffic and a state trooper pulled me over for no tag. I tried to explain to her that I hadn’t known it, that somebody must have taken it. I told her what I’d been doing and that this looked like just the latest in a whole bunch of things that had happened, but she wrote me a $215 ticket anyway,” he said. Medley said he will appeal the ticket in court.
By this time Medley’s volunteer guard duty had cost him more than $1,000 including car repairs, paint removal and the ticket. “I’m a single dad,” he said. I couldn’t afford to keep doing this. I wasn’t afraid but it was just too much and I had my boy to think about. It broke my heart to quit but eventually I just had to. Besides – I’ll be honest with you – it wasn’t the real threats that worried me most. I’m a soldier and I personally can handle that, although I want to protect my son, but all the negativity really got to me. I was trying to help but these people acted like I was the enemy.”
Asheville Citizen –Times columnist John Boyle “did a piece on me that I thought was pretty fair,” Medley said, “and WLOS sent [reporter] Ashlea Surles to interview me and she did a good job, I thought. “But I heard ABC corporate [WLOS’ network] saw her piece and went ballistic. So they sent another reporter over and she did a piece slanted a whole other way,” he said.
Meanwhile, Medley said, the FBI and Army intelligence had been able to trace the license number of one of the “spotter” vehicles to a Raleigh resident with ties to a militant mosque there.
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Ed. Note: The Department of the Army, whose intelligence division is investigating possible terrorist activity against Medley, as well as possible surveillance of Asheville Armed Services Recruitment Bureaus and the Regent Park area in general, has placed significant restrictions on details relating to this story. Media are not allowed, for example to divulge Medley’s former branch of service, rank, or any of his personal information other than what is written or quoted here. The Tribune is following this story closely and will release additional information as it becomes available.