I have covered John Thune since 1996 and never recall seeing armed officers so on alert at one of his events.
But that was the case Wednesday when Thune made a presentation and fielded questions from about 24 people at the Highland Conference Center. In the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, the Mitchell Police Division were on alert and I really can’t blame them.
Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg and Det. Lt. Don Everson were at the event and both men were wearing sidearms, as they usually are. They were keeping a close eye on everything and everyone.
Overweg asked me who one man was in the back of the room. He was a Thune staffer, I told the chief. Most everyone else had a nameplate by their chair.
Everson patrolled in front of the closed doors of the conference room. We have spoken on the phone but had not met in person, so he kept an eye on me when I went to the bathroom to deal with a cough at one point. When I emerged, I startled him and Everson turned to me, a look of some concern on his face.
I blanched for a second before walking over and introducing myself. Everson was obviously relieved and we had a nice chat before I went back into the room.
Both cops said they feel tensions will ease and Thune said he hopes having armed officers at his event isn’t a regular event in the future. But people are on edge and you can’t blame them for doing their job.
I’m just glad they didn’t think I looked even more suspicious than I do.