Barrow researcher placed on administrative leave after Sky Harbor arrest

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
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PHOENIX -- The Valley brain researcher arrested for allegedly mishandling a loaded AR-15 rifle at Sky Harbor International Airport has been placed on administrative leave from his job.

But the criminal case against him may not be going anywhere.

A judge told Peter Steinmetz he had to give up his guns because of what happened at the airport July 25.

Now, his employer is telling him he is temporarily barred from doing his work.

Barrow said in a statement, "Following his arrest at Sky Harbor Airport and after careful analysis and review, Dr. Peter Steinmetz has been placed on administrative leave as a part-time scientist at St. Joseph's Barrow Neurological Institute."

Surveillance video shows Steinmetz being arrested in Terminal 4 after briefly, and he says accidentally, pointing the muzzle of his rifle at a woman and her teenage daughter at the airport.

"It was him being negligent in how he was manipulating this weapon," said Sgt. Steve Martos with the Phoenix Police Department.

Steinmetz claimed he was just there for a cup of coffee and was trying to prove a point about his right to carry a loaded weapon.

Last November, after the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport that killed a TSA agent, Steinmetz wrote on his Google Plus account:

"Why was this guy so angry? Perhaps the American people can wake up and realize that the TSA is routinely virtually strip-searching everyone while achieving absolutely nothing in terms of improved security... Time to get rid of the expensive and wasteful TSA!"

Two days later, Steinmetz went to Sky Harbor with a rifle to protest. Police were called in but didn't arrest him because he wasn't technically breaking the law.

After Internet reports surfaced Thursday, alleging charges would not be filed against Steinmetz in connection with last week's incident, 3TV reached out to his attorney, Marc Victor, who said, "There are no charges pending at the moment. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office has seven years to file charges if they choose to do so."

When asked if Steinmetz has any court appearances pending, his attorney said no.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office did not return 3TV's calls for comment.

Steinmetz is planning to hold a news conference on Monday to tell his side of the story.


Valley doctor arrested with loaded rifle at airport