FORTVILLE — A man volunteering to help coach a soccer team brought a gun on school grounds during practice and then pretended to be a police officer when confronted about the weapon, according to court records.
Prosecutors have charged Nathaniel Salazar, 25, 110 E. Carolina St., Fortville, with impersonating a public servant and possession of a firearm on school property, both Level 6 felonies.
A warrant was not issued for his arrest, but he’s been ordered to appear in court and face a judge for an initial hearing Oct. 13.
Police said Salazar agreed to help coach a youth soccer league that practices on the Mt. Vernon School Corp.’s soccer fields. At the first practice Aug. 25, he walked out onto the field with a handgun strapped to his hip, according to charging documents.
When another coach told him it was against the law to bring a firearm on school property, Salazar told him it was OK because he’s a Fortville Police Department officer, court documents state.
The law prohibits people from carrying firearms on school property or buses. Members of law enforcement, however, are permitted to carry guns on school grounds.
Salazar told others at the practice he’s a police officer who works security at a lot of football games at Mt. Vernon, according to charging documents. Police said he also told people at his church he’s a police officer, court documents state.
When police later questioned Salazar about the incident, he said the allegations against him weren’t true, court records state. Police emphasized to him it was important to be honest and asked him again if he’d done what others had alleged, to which Salazar responded, “well, yes and no,” documents state.
He told police he had carried the gun onto school grounds because he wasn’t aware the law prohibited it; when someone told him he couldn’t have the weapon there, he got in his car and left, he told police, saying he’d only been there about 30 seconds, according to charging documents.
Then, officers asked Salazar whether he’s been identifying himself as a police officer, and Salazar denied having made those statements.
When asked again, he told them people at the soccer practice misunderstood him. He told police he was an officer at one time, but he’s not anymore.
Court records state Salazar was never sworn in a police officer because a medical condition prohibited him from being able to complete necessary training.
The Level 6 felony charges he faces carry a penalty of six months to two and a half years and up to $10,000 in fines.
Representatives with the soccer league said Salazar is not on the organization’s roaster of coaches.