BY ART BUKOWSKI
TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse sheriff's deputies didn't know what to expect when they rushed to the Walgreen's on U.S. 31 for a report of a man with a gun.
The same Walgreen's was robbed several months ago, and the situation was tense when about eight police vehicles pulled into the Garfield Township store at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Deputies were setting up a perimeter when they discovered a troubling fact: the man who reported the situation apparently made the whole thing up.
A Bellaire man, 65, is expected to face criminal charges after deputies said he fabricated the story. He got into an argument with another man in the pharmacy counter line, then told a pharmacy worker to call 911 because the other man had a gun, sheriff's Capt. Randy Fewless said.
He later told deputies he made up the story because he believed it was the only way police would respond to the scene and deal with the argument, Fewless said. He could face a criminal charge of making a false report of a felony, which carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison.
"I think there needs to be accountability for people who make false complaints of this type because the response of officers at the scene creates a hazardous situation for not only officers, but citizens as well," Fewless said. "And this can be a traumatizing event for innocent witnesses and citizens there. We just can't have it happening."
The initial argument happened because the Bellaire man believed the other man was standing too close to him and wouldn't move, Fewless said.
Deputies continue to investigate an April 24 robbery at the same Walgreen's. In that incident, a man went into the store, shoved a clerk and told her to open the cash register. The clerk opened the register, the suspect grabbed money and ran off behind the building. The man, who didn't display or mention a weapon, has yet to be arrested.
That incident was one of four Grand Traverse County robberies in about 40 days.