Town of Niagara Police have arrested a man they say was impersonating a federal agent at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls.
Police say the man had fakes guns, was dressed in all black and had a tactical belt around his waist that included mace and a portable radio.
But thanks to social media, this story took a bit of a twist.
Town of Niagara Police had their body cameras rolling when they confronted Lemont Hughes on Wednesday.
"Okay, what agency do you all work for," a police officer questioned. "Homeland Security," Hughes replied.
The 45-year-old Niagara Falls resident had what appeared to be two holstered semi-automatic handguns strapped to each leg. He claimed they were real and that he was a federal agent, but it turns out he is a fraud, according to police.
Officers arrested him for impersonating a police officer. And while the guns look real, police say they're fake as was the "POLICE" badge and portable radio Hughes was carrying. Put it all together, this stockpile alarmed mall security and they called police for help.
"We immediately worry about active shooter situations. They have the potential for being catastrophic situations," Chief James Suitor said.
That crisis was averted. But police suddenly found themselves in another potentially harmful situation when an eyewitness's video was posted on social media.
"I've been watching him the whole time we been in the mall ... he didn't do nothing. He's black, period. That's what it breaks down to," the man is heard saying on the video.
Suitor says the claim of racial profiling couldn't be more false. "It's shameful that he would make that assumption."
Joshua Lopez, a mall shopper that day, was the eyewitness who recorded and posted the video. It took off in popularity. Lopez later took it down, he says, because of a rush to judgment.
"I made a premature, ignorant statement. [The arrest] was not based on race," Lopez said.
Now he lauds the police for their efforts, as does the chief. "The circumstances were indisputable of truly what was going on the intervention by law enforcement was admirable," Suitor said.
Hughes was charged with criminal impersonation. He was locked up at the Niagara County Jail on $2,000 bail. It's unclear if he's still locked up.
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