'Oath Keeper' vows to protect high school from mass shooting - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

'Oath Keeper' vows to protect high school from mass shooting


For the second straight school day on Monday in Fort Wayne, a man affiliated with a group called the "Oath Keepers", stood on the perimeter of North Side High School, pledging to protect students and faculty against the threat of a mass shooting.

His mission is proving to have supporters and strong detractors.

Early Monday, at the school, with class in session, Mark Cowan was back on patrol.

"There are haters out there that don't like me and that's fine," the former Vietnam Vet said.

He first showed up Friday, parking his pickup truck just off school property.

With an assault style rifle that he owns on the front seat, Cowan told us he is committed to this slogan, "Not on our Watch."

"With all these threats we had in northeast Allen County, I can't sit at home while this is going on, so I figure I'll come out here and I'll watch the parking lot and see if anything...any red flags come up," Cowan said.

He is part of Oath Keepers.

On the organization's website, it states, Oath Keepers proclaim to be a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

It goes on to state, Oath Keepers declare that they will not obey "unconstitutional orders... such as orders to disarm the American people."

"We wish he would go away," said former Fort Wayne Community School Board President Mark Giaquinta.

Giaquinta wanted to make it clear he was expressing his own views, and not those necessarily shared by FWCS.

Giaquinta says Fort Wayne Community Schools has worked hard to put trained school resource officers in place, and to build relationships and trust among students and between students and adults to boost school safety.

We asked Giaquinta for his take on Cowan's crusade.

"We don't know who he is, we don't know if he's more a threat than a help. We have a very strong vetting process at Fort Wayne Community Schools, which he has not participated in," he said.

Cowan has concentrated on North Side High School, but he says there are other like-minded people keeping watch over other schools across northeast Indiana.

We ran into a Fort Wayne man who believes Cowan is making a positive contribution, especially considering the criticism police took after how they dealt with the south Florida school shooting.

"Campus police clearly didn't do their job, the FBI clearly didn't do their job, they had ample warnings this guy was dangerous, and yet they failed to act on it," Paul Davis said.

He went on to say, because of that, private citizens might have a role to play in these situations.

"Absolutely (they) might need to do something, stand up to help people," Davis said.

We caught up with local pastor Bill McGill, who was wearing a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High sweatshirt, to honor the shooting victims.

He trusts police to handle such situations, not Cowan or the Oath Keepers.

"They're professionals, he is not a professional. In the jargon of our urban generation, you've got to stay in your lane," Reverend McGill said.

Cowan concedes he's getting push back from some parents and school officials, and says he is open to leaving his post, if it becomes clear his influence is not wanted. 

Powered by Frankly