Tourist brought AR-15 rifle, handgun to Disney World over worries about Orlando protests

©Orlando Sentinel

Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

ORLANDO, Fla. — A South Florida man brought an AR-15 rifle and 9mm handgun with him on his Disney World vacation because he was worried about his family’s safety during the social justice protests in Central Florida last month, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

The 43-year-old Palm Beach Gardens man checked into the Polynesian Village Resort with his guns in a tennis bag on Saturday of the Labor Day holiday weekend, according to a newly released sheriff’s incident report.

The man had a concealed weapons permit and was not arrested, so the Orlando Sentinel is not identifying him. Disney stored his guns for him until the end of his trip.

The bellman handling the bag to bring to the man’s room wondered why it was so heavy, made the discovery and reported it to his manager, who then contacted the sheriff’s office, the report said.

The Sheriff’s Office questioned the man who told them “he brought the rifle with him for their safety because of the riots and civil unrest going on down south and in the Central Florida area,” the incident report said.

Protesters demonstrated regularly, including near Disney World, after a deputy fatally shot 22-year-old Salaythis Melvin outside the Florida Mall on Aug. 7. And like in many cities across the nation, Orlando has had protests in support of Black Lives Matter downtown as well as near Universal and other surrounding areas throughout the summer.

In addition to the guns, the man brought three rifle magazines with 90 total rounds and two 9mm magazines with 20 rounds total.

The sheriff’s office checked his concealed weapon permit. “We then gave (the man) back his firearms and told him we appreciated his cooperation,” the incident report said.

“No arrests were made because no laws were broken,” the sheriff’s office said Tuesday when reached for comment.

Disney Security held onto his handgun in the hotel’s safe, and the larger rifle was stored at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

The man did not return a voicemail left on his cell phone for comment.

Disney World policy bans visitors from bringing weapons on its property.

“Our policy is clear that guns or weapons of any kind are not allowed at our resort regardless of whether someone has a permit,” Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger said in a statement.

In July, a Georgia woman was arrested for leaving two guns in her child’s diaper bag as her family tried to enter Epcot. Yunique Smith, who didn’t have a concealed firearms permit, pleaded no contest last month to possession of a concealed weapon and was ordered to pay a $535 fine.

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©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)