CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. - A Cabarrus County teenager posted a video on YouTube that has attracted the attention of deputies and Amendment One opponents.
The video is the newest strike in the battle over North Carolina’s proposal to ban same-sex marriages.
Cabarrus County deputies spent more than an hour at the teen’s home after learning about the video. They believe the 17-year-old Jonathan Wiles took the sign from an intersection and set it up in his backyard where he recorded himself firing several shots at it.
The video was later posted to YouTube.
Before firing the shots, Wiles talked about his strong support of the marriage amendment, saying, “Somebody decided it would be a good idea to put this sign by my house. They ought to know not to put stuff like that near my house.”
He then shows the sign opposing Amendment One, puts on safety glasses, picks up a shotgun and opens fire.
“I think it’s silly; just someone looking for attention,” said neighbor C.P. Cook.
If Wiles was looking for attention, he got it. The video was spotted by opponents of the amendment who shared the link on Twitter. Then, dozens of sheriff’s deputies showed up at his home.
“Our biggest concern was public safety. We had to make sure this wasn’t someone who planned to go out and hurt someone,” said Sgt. Tessa Burchett.
Deputies said they don’t think Wiles intends to hurt anyone, but they do believe Wiles took the sign to shoot it.
At this point, he has been cited with injury to property.
Doris and Boyd Ausmann, who live down the street from Wiles, said they support Amendment One, but believe the teen went too far.
“I think the way you should handle it is going to the polls and cast your ballot,” said Doris Ausmann.
“This stuff here is childish,” her husband added. “It is redneckish. It doesn’t accomplish anything.”
Deputies said what happened is also a valuable lesson to other teens.
“Unfortunately, people don’t realize the permanence of posting videos and pictures online,” Burchett said.
The video has been removed from YouTube.
County officials said its investigation is not over. There is a county ordinance that deals with using firearms near other homes. Officials are also looking into the possibility of additional charges.
The incident is the second case of vandalism surrounding the Amendment One debate in less than two weeks.
Last month, a church sign in Hickory was vandalized when someone spray-painted over the words “Marriage Sunday” with “Hate speech Sunday.”
No arrests have been made in that crime.