A security guard at a St. Paul Planned Parenthood clinic called the cops last week after he spotted a Republican state lawmaker with a loaded gun in the parking lot. But the pol says he was only “checking on” his online girlfriend, who he thought may be on a date with another man — a claim police have not been able to corroborate because the man did not have a phone number or address for the woman.
According to the police report, a security guard reported the man, Rep. Tom Hackbarth, after he saw him get out of a pickup truck in the parking lot with a loaded gun in a hip holster. The guard saw him walk into an alley near the clinic.
When police came, they handcuffed him and took his gun, which he has a concealed carry permit for. Hackbarth claimed he didn’t realize he was in the Planned Parenthood parking lot, according to the police report. He said he was in the neighborhood looking for his girlfriend, a woman he said he had met online a few months before and had been on a couple dates with.
Police have not been able to track down the mystery woman. Hackbarth said he didn’t have her phone number or address, as he only communicated with her via an online dating site. He also told police he didn’t remember the name of the site.
Hackbarth later told the Star Tribune that he had had coffee with the woman the day before and asked her out to dinner. She declined, saying she had plans with a female friend in the Highland Park, the neighborhood around the Planned Parenthood clinic.
But he didn’t believe her.
“She gave me some line of baloney, and I thought, ‘well, she’s fibbing to me.’ You could tell, and I thought, ‘well, I’m going to check it out.’ and I went there to see if she was around and her vehicle was not there. And I was just checking on her,” he told the local CBS affiliate.
According to the Tribune, he thought she was with another man and wanted to look around the neighborhood for her car. He didn’t find it.
“I was not a jealous boyfriend,” he said. “I was just trying to check up on her. It’s totally a misunderstanding.”
Police found maps, binoculars and more ammunition in his truck. They did not press charges, and returned Hackbarth’s gun to him a week later.
Hackbarth, a 58-year-old married father of three, said he is going through a divorce with his wife. They’ve been legally separated for more than a year, he said.
Late update: Republican leaders in the Minnesota state house have stripped Hackbarth of his leadership positions, reports the Star Tribune.
“Due to an incident on Tuesday, November 16, State Representative Tom Hackbarth has been suspended from any current and pending leadership roles within the House GOP Caucus,” House Speaker-elect Kurt Zellers said in a statement. “The suspension will remain in effect until the issue is fully resolved.”
Because there are no charges pending against Hackbarth, it is unclear what Zellers means by “fully resolved.”