HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – A man was arrested and charged after police found him hiding behind a tree near a Hampton walking trail.
Sgt. Jason Price with the Hampton Police Division said officers were called to the area of Magruder Boulevard and Butler Farm Road for a suspicious person around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday. Officers were directed to the Matteson Trail, where they found 18-year-old Collin Marcus Craig Ivey hiding behind a tree wearing a Ghillie suit.
A Ghillie suit is a camouflage outfit known for its resemblance to foliage.
“A Ghillie suit is normally affiliated with hunting or some kind of firearm activity. You can see where this would be alarming because we don’t know the intent of the individual at the time. Their intent could be one of criminal in nature or it could be one of a practical joke in nature, and so we have to take these incidents extremely seriously,” said Price.
Officers learned Ivey was planning to scare people on the trail with an air horn, according to Price.
Ivey was arrested and charged with one count of wearing a mask in public, which is a felony. It carries a possible prison sentence of one to five years.
WAVY News’ Erin Kelly talked to Ivey at his home Friday. He said he bought the suit for $85 and wanted to try it out after seeing YouTube videos of people wearing the suit to scare others. He said he did not plan to blow the air horn directly at people on the trail, but was considering sounding it to startle golfers at a nearby course.
“I was actually just going to stand up and say, ‘Hey,’ or like shake real quick to people walking by. And they’d be like, ‘Oh my God!’ Nothing really serious, and if someone got mad, I would say, ‘It’s just a prank. It’s just a prank,'” Ivey explained. He said he understood why officers responded, but he thinks he they should have given him a warning.
“The seriousness of this lies in the fact that, thanks to the Second Amendment, we have a right to bear arms. We have concealed weapons permits in Virginia, and while his intent may not have been violent in nature, people utilizing the Matteson Trail may not have known that,” said Price.
Ivey said he had no idea he could be charged with a felony for wearing a mask in public.
“When they told me, I said, ‘Oh my God.’ My stomach dropped to the ground and I was scared,” said Ivey.
According to state law, it is illegal to wear a mask in public without written permission. There are exceptions for holiday costumes, theatrical, medical, public health, and work masks.
Ivey said he plans to return to the trail to apologize and said he will do community service.