WI: Open Carrier in Madison Has Gun Snatched by Violent Criminal

Opinion

Surveillance video image of Melvin Bogus, suspected of taking a gun from a man on State Street, and pointing it at him. MADISON POLICE DEPARTMENT
Surveillance video image of Melvin Bogus, suspected of taking a gun from a man on State Street, and pointing it at him. MADISON POLICE DEPARTMENT

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- -On 17 December 2018, at about 7 p.m. on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin, a 21-year-old open carrier and his friend were hanging out when his weapon was grabbed by a homeless man.  At 7 p.m. it was well below freezing. Heavy coats, hats, and gloves were indicated.

State Street runs from the University of Wisconsin to the State Capitol.  It is about nine blocks long and is usually crowded with pedestrians, many of which are students. There are numerous bars and restaurants, as well as the Student Union and Memorial Library, Library Mall, and the Wisconsin Historical Society near the West end of the street.

The 21-year-old open carrier was from Black Earth. Black Earth is a nearby small town. The Second Amendment activist had a shotgun, two pistols, and a large knife/machete. He was attempting to make political points while hoping to strike acquaintance with some girls, maybe get some phone numbers.

Attacker's Background:

Melvin Bogus, 39, with no permanent address and well known to police, was also hanging out on State Street.

Melvin F. Bogus
Bogus

There is an arrest record for an inmate the same age, named Melvin F. Bogus, from 2006. That inmate would be 39 this year. It may be the same person. There is a record of a Melvin F. Bogus of the same age, who was convicted of second-degree robbery in 2010. The same 39-year-old Bogus or another Melvin Bogus, without a permanent address on State Street in Madison, was charged with substantial battery and bail jumping two months ago, on 23 October 2018. The 54-year-old victim in that case had to get stitches for a head wound. In that case, the officers were able to solve the crime using surveillance video, similar to the pistol snatching case in December.

Melvin Bogus' first attorney, on October 24th was Crystal A. Vera. At the status conference on 5 November, Bogus had a different attorney, David S. Knoll. Bogus was granted bond on 8 November 2018 One of the conditions of Bogus' bond was that he not be on State St. in Madison.  From wicourts.gov:

CASH BOND AMENDED – $250 PER CASE. – Defendant shall not have any contact, direct or indirect, with FRH or VC. – Defendant shall not be on State St in Madison.

Attorney Knoll must have had a disagreement with his client, because he withdrew from the case on 10 December. Bogus had a third attorney, Mark Frank, appointed as the public defender.

Then, on 17 December, just a week later, Bogus was recorded snatching a pistol from the open carrier and pointing it at him. From madison.com:

“The friend said the victim, a gun advocate, wanted to make a statement about the right to bear arms and had been on busy State Street a couple of times practicing open carry,” DeSpain said. “The friend also admitted they were Downtown to get girls’ phone numbers.”

Bogus, who is known to Downtown patrol officers, confronted the man saying something like, “Why you wanna kill people?” DeSpain said. “The man with guns responded by saying he was armed because it was his right and it was for protection.”

Bogus then closed the distance between the two, getting close enough to grab a holstered handgun from the armed man, DeSpain said.

Bogus “pointed the loaded weapon at the victim, and the victim, in turn, pulled out his long gun and pointed it” at Bogus, DeSpain said. “It was a fluid, tense and quick standoff.”

Bogus ran off with the man’s gun, DeSpain said. Officers found him and recovered the stolen handgun, taking Bogus into custody on several tentative charges.

Some of the tentative charges against Bogus were bail jumping, carrying a concealed weapon, strong arm robbery, felon in possession of a firearm, reckless endangerment, and possession of cocaine.

If you are going to practice open carry, as a Second Amendment advocate, some preparation is in order. Think about the possibility of someone snatching a pistol. Training on avoiding, preventing, and actively stopping disarms is advisable.

Most open carriers have some retaining device and travel in groups to guard against precisely such a possibility. If there is more than one person, discussion of what tactics to use is common. Often, an unarmed member of the group will be a designated camera/video man.

Practice situational awareness. Have a plan on how to prevent a disarm attempt.  Use of a retention holster is a good idea. As the purpose of the political action is political awareness, it is not necessary for all the guns to be loaded.  Be particularly aware of people “closing the distance.” Mr. Bogus practiced what Marc MacYoung calls “the interview,” as a way to evaluate his intended victim.

There are plenty of convicted, career criminals, mental cases or drug addicts, similar to Mr. Bogus. You need to think about them, and how you will respond in a confrontation.

Mr. Bogus is fortunate he did not end up dead. The armed standoff only lasted a couple of seconds. No one fired. Perhaps Bogus had no intention of firing. Maybe he had no understanding of the snatched pistol's controls.

Both participants were lucky. The open carrier did not justifiably shoot and kill Mr. Bogus. Even in deep blue Madison, with everything on video, he likely would not have been charged. He will get his pistol back. If he had to shoot Mr. Bogus, it would have been a long, nasty, expensive and time-consuming process. People have a difficult time when they kill someone, even when justified.

Mr. Bogus will spend the rest of this (and likely more) winters in a warm Wisconsin jail and prison, where he will get three hots a day. It may be a better existence than he had on the street.

“Snatches” of pistols from open carriers are exceedingly rare.

There are seven I can recall in the last ten years. One was in Milwaukee in 2010. One was in Oregon in 2014 (unloaded pistol, by law). One was in Washington State in 2015, (unsuccessful). There was one in Virginia in 2016 (after dark, before moonrise). One was in Phoenix, Arizona in 2016.  Another was in North Carolina in 2017. Now there is one in Madison, Wisconsin (pistol quickly recovered).

There seem to be about as many pistols snatched from concealed carriers, who are pounced on because their attackers do not know they are carrying, and consider them an unarmed mark. One concealed permit holder had a pistol taken from him. He chased the pistol thief and was shot and killed. Some might argue that it was almost open carry because the thief noticed the pistol when it was supposed to be concealed. Unfortunately, I have not recovered that link.

I have not found a single case where a pistol was taken from an open carrier, and the carrier was shot with their pistol. This case in Madison is the closest.

The Madison police talked with the young open carry Second Amendment advocate. They stated he had the right to open carry. It was a refreshing change from 8 years ago when the Madison Police Department charged open carriers with obstruction of a peace officer and disorderly conduct for legally open carrying at a Culver's restaurant. The Police settled out of court.

The police talked to the young Second Amendment advocate about how lucky he was in this case.

Open carry is legal in 45 states. Fifteen of those require a permit. There are more than 17 million people with concealed carry permits. Most of those are legally able to carry where they can conceal carry openly.

12-13 states have Constitutional Carry, where no permit is required for either open or concealed carry, just as it was when the Bill of Rights was ratified.

Attacks on open carriers may be rare because of tactical deterrence. Most criminals do not wish to attack an armed person. There is easier prey about. Melvin F. Bogus thought the young open carrier was easy prey. He was wrong.

Most open carriers are more careful than the youthful Second Amendment advocate looking to meet some girls on State Street. The advocate learned a valuable lesson. He will likely have a plan to prevent being disarmed in the future.  A simple retention holster would have kept this disarming from being successful.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 37 thoughts on “WI: Open Carrier in Madison Has Gun Snatched by Violent Criminal

    1. Much of the wisdom about open carry has to do with the locale. A rural town in Montana or Wyoming where ranching is a primary way of life, where a “hogleg” is actually a tool of the trade for rattlesnakes and rockchucks, is a far different environment than an urban one. There are some exceptions of course, because frankly, bad guys seem to show up everywhere now. But the Melvin Bogus versions are far more prevalent where the pickin’s are easier. I live in an area of Oregon where 15 miles makes that much difference, for example. But open carry, except on my place or up in the bush? I got no practical reason to do so. I CC everywhere, and it is discreet, for good reason. We know those reasons well, by now. In my case, a career in law enforcement helped me greatly to “get it”. My Oath, taken twice, is still in effect, however, and if I’m around when some maniac or moron creates a threat to others, I want the option to not be noticed until I need to be. CC is that option.

    2. Aside from giving up a tactical advantage here’s my favorite scenario. Mr. Proving a Point is open carrying a handgun walking along a street. Along comes Mr. I don’t really care or have an opinion about guns, with his 5 year old little daughter. Mr. No Opinion’s daughter sees Mr. Proving a Points’ open carry gun. She looks up at daddy and asks “Daddy, is that man going to shoot me?” Bingo! Mr. Doesn’t Care and has No Opinion suddenly not only has an opinion about guns, but cares deeply about his daughter being frightened. Net result is Mr. Proving a Point has created an enemy of all gun owners that we did not have before he decided to prove a point. Then a criminal seeing the open carry gun snatches it and goes on to commit a crime or doesn’t snatch the gun but decides to simply shoot Mr. Proving a Point.. And the point he was proving was “you can’t fix stupid.” Another winner of the coveted Darwin Award. Go ahead, tell me you were defending my right to carry a gun. No thanks, buddy, the only thing you were doing is compensating for something I won’t mention.

      1. @Harry, Well, you assume a lot. Maybe Mr. DCNO says to himself “Crap, I am totally powerless to defend my daughter, … and my family, … and and my dog!” He stops Mr PP and gets some good intel on a place to shoot, a local range and good instruction. Then Mr DCNO marries up with a good trainer, joins the family of responsible gun owners, and gets in a little range time… and even joins GOA. Meanwhile a hot burglary thug is surveilling Mr DCNO and his home …
        Three hundred and twenty million Americans, 320 million possibilities. MCAHNY

    3. If you insist to open carry you should at least provide some firearm retention. One could use a good retention holster or a lanyard. I don’t open carry because the element of surprise is too valuable to waste. I am not a poser.

    4. Why make yourself a target of crime? It’s like wearing gold swag and a Rolex. Condition Yellow and a stealth lifestyle is much smarter.

    5. A criminal did what criminals do. Open carry and be proud of it, and be better prepared not to allow your gun to be taken. This whole story sounds Bogus.. This demonstrates an optimal outcome within a sub-optimal series of unfortunate events. Chime in more Gomer Piles to rip OC..

    6. One thing I like about open carry is that I most likely will not be arrested if someone sees my handgun. Prior to open carry in Texas, a legally concealed handgun had to be concealed. If someone spotted it and reported, you could be in a world of legal hurt or real pain. Just some hysteretic can initiate deadly panic as a dangerous criminal. Keep in mind that there are LEOs that do not like anyone being armed except themselves and will not hold back their feelings. I am saying that one needs to be more a ware while open carry in public.

    7. “Some of the tentative charges against Bogus were bail jumping, carrying a concealed weapon, strong arm robbery, felon in possession of a firearm, reckless endangerment, and possession of cocaine.”

      Well, that should keep Mr. Bogus off the streets for at least a week, maybe two.
      When will American courts start protecting American citizens from cocksuckers like this?
      I’d bet 85-90% percent of violent crime in the St. Louis area is committed by folks like Bogus who do not deserve to be out among the public.

    8. How many “attempts” result in a dead perp? I would guess quite a few, but get logged by the police as “attempted robbery” which it is, but the “taxpayer saver” shot is rarely reported in the media. Best way to avoid all this is carry concealed, be aware of your surroundings, avoid dangerous places and situations.

    9. Here in Arizona, open carry is common and relatively problem free. I find it reassuring and pleasant to see armed citizens almost daily at the gas station, grocery store, in cafes and on the street. Many carry what we called in Texas, “Bar-b-q guns”, in fancy leather holsters and others carry more common hand guns in nylon, kydex and plain leather.
      The bottom line, whether concealed or open, is the old adage, “Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”

      1. Open carry is an invitation by a VBC* to a VCA** to cold-cock the former with a rebar, bat, rock or even a frozen chicken (all weapons if so misused) just to take away a handgun an use it against the VBC.

        * Victim By Choice
        ** Violent Criminal Actor

    10. Everyone makes their own personal decisions, good or bad, so I respect him for exercising his right. For me, I only carry concealed. I never want to let the criminal or crazie to know what they are up against, until it is too late for them. Thankfully, I have never had to defend myself in public…yet. But I’ve noticed as I grow older, the less I am eyed with respect, and the more as prey.

    11. Exactly why I would not do that in an urban area. Your asking for trouble. Moreover, I would have an entirely different holster if I was going to open carry for obvious reason. Concealed carry keeps the “bad guys” guessing.

    12. ““Snatches” of pistols from open carriers are exceedingly rare.

      There are seven I can recall in the last ten years. One was in Milwaukee in 2010. One was in Oregon in 2014 (unloaded pistol, by law). One was in Washington State in 2015, (unsuccessful). There was one in Virginia in 2016 (after dark, before moonrise). One was in Phoenix, Arizona in 2016. Another was in North Carolina in 2017. Now there is one in Madison, Wisconsin (pistol quickly recovered).”

      It has happened several time in Wichita, KS. It isn’t all that rare.

      1. Drug dealers take guns, jewelry and other stolen items in trade for drugs.
        It isn’t unusual for an open carrier to be mugged by a single strong thug or a group of thugs.
        They can see the valuable item, the gun. THugs now you can’t draw and shoot them just because they are getting close.
        They will get close and grab your arms and take your gun. They will take your cellphone, video camera and maybe your shoes.
        Unless you have a group of your own, concealed carry is much safer in urban areas because the thugs can’t plan.

    13. A couple of years ago an open carrier was accosted in a Walmart by a larger individual and would have been disarmed if others hadn’t intervened.

      IMHO, you shouldn’t be open carrying to “defend the 2A” you should definitely have a decent retention holster, good situational awareness and a plan to defend yourself. If you are carrying a weapon and not prepared to use it, you shouldn’t be carrying it.

      Both gents got lucky…the open carrier that his own weapon wasn’t sued against him, and the felon in possession that he didn’t run into someone who would actually use the weapons he was carrying.

      1. I also remember a Sam’s or Wal Mart guy who was shot and killed a couple of yrs ago. By the Cops.
        He was legal,someone spotted his weapon and called 911. Not sure on all the details right now.
        R1

        1. Yeah, he was challenged leaving a SAM’s club after being asked to leave. Someone saw his gun when he bent over by a shelf. Had a CC license and complying with what the first cop said to do…raise your hands, get on the ground. Second cop shot him less than 5 sec after the first challenged him. Girlfriend was with him.

          Very sad.

          We need universal CC reciprocity so CC is more common. Right now where I live (on a state border) I can carry at home, but if I want to drive over to the next state (2.5 miles) I have to store my weapon as we don’t have reciprocity. I can drive over there…not a Constitutional right, but I can’t carry.

    14. Besides making you a target it does little to promote respect for the 2nd. If I had to open carry it would only be in level III with the safety on, which is exactly the way I carried when I was on the job.

      I agree with Green Mnt Boy “Concealed carry would have most likely prevented this.”

    15. Our problem is as follows. Concealed carry is not a right. It is a regulated permission, which can be regulated, revoked, denied, both given and then taken away. Open Carry is the core right protected by the Second Amendment. We can argue about which is tactically superior until the cows come home but concealed carry, as determined by the courts, (before you start, I agree, Shall not be infringed) is not a Right it is a privledge.. This is the real world we live in ladies and gentlemen. We have allowed our Liberty to be regulated and legislated out from under us. The good news is there is a path to restoration of Second .amendment Liberty. We can start by fighting every single fight we can win, and then go for the fruit higher up the tree. Open carry is the core right. It is an individual right unconnected with militia service, which predates the Constitution. Let’s stop picking on each other, support our gun orgs and win this one. Then let’s pick another.

        1. Just remember…l An armed society is a polite society manners are good when one may have to back up his actions with his life.”
          Robert A. Heinlein from Beyond This Horizon 1942

      1. @Mark Baird, The Second Amendment says bear, and does not differentiate between bearing openly or bearing concealed, Bearing in both fashions is our protected Civil Right. It is up to us to decide, not Congress, not some bureaucrat, not a state legislature, not some judge, nor some BUP in an echelon above reality. The decision how to bear, when to bear, what to bear are all up to us.

    16. Considering obtaining a concealed carry permit. Cannot see why open carry would be a good option, What If one was walking alone up to a romp of drinking rowdies on a busy street. They are taunting you and calling you the Lone Ranger. He would need to get street smarts real fast.

    17. “Most open carriers have some retaining device and travel in groups . . . ” In my open carry state I’ve observed about a dozen open carriers over the past few years. Only one bunch was traveling in a group (about five, who were hanging around a restaurant and left on motorcycles), and all of them were wearing open-top Kydex holsters. All the rest I’ve seen were by themselves, and either carrying in open-top Kydex (one) or cheap nylon holsters with chintzy thumb-breaks (all the rest). I’ve never seen an open carrier wearing a secure holster on a decent belt, and I’ve never seen an open carrier exhibit the slightest bit of situational awareness. They were either (a) wrestling an appliance into the bed of a pickup truck in the middle of a parking lot, (b) paying for soda at the local Stop-n-Rob, (c) meandering through a botanic garden, or (d) walking to or from a big-box store, never once turning their head.
      If the open carriers you’ve seen show any inkling that they may be robbery targets, you hang out in different circles than I do. The ones I’ve seen seem to think their gun is a talisman that wards off bad people.

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