An Army veteran who reportedly went to Tangent City Hall with an AR-15, a holstered pistol and wearing tactical gear on Sept. 4 said he was armed because he was checking in on livestock earlier that morning, and there had been reports of a mountain lion in the area.
“There was a cougar sighted a couple hundred yards from where my goats were,” said Skylar McCollaum.
McCollaum, 30, has been charged in Linn County Circuit Court with possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon in a public building or court facility, a class C felony.
He also triggered a lockout at nearby Tangent Elementary School on Sept. 4, when a concerned staff member called authorities after he walked past. A letter from Greater Albany Public Schools superintendent Melissa Goff to Tangent school parents that day stated that McCollaum was wearing a camouflage bulletproof vest.
McCollaum, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, said he frequently exercises in a bulletproof vest and carrying a sidearm. Despite his PTSD, he said is considering reenlisting in the military and wants to stay fit.
Court records indicate that on Wednesday, his mother posted 10% of McCollaum’s $25,000 security to bail him out of the Linn County Jail. Per a release agreement, McCollaum cannot possess firearms. He had already surrendered his firearms to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office when he was arrested on Monday.
His next court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 23.
McCollaum acknowledged that he went to City Hall on Sept. 4 to discuss a recently passed poultry control ordinance that limited the amount of chickens, ducks and geese he could have on his property.
He said he was sipping a cup of coffee as he walked through town with his AR-15 slung over his shoulder.
“I wanted to just get the ordinance so I could read it and I could ask what happened and why it happened,” he said. “I thought I would swing by there.”
McCollaum said he was shocked when he received a letter later that day from the city attorney regarding “excess” rabbits, chickens and other animals at his residence. “I didn’t know about it when I went down there,” McCollaum said.
According to draft minutes from the Aug. 12 Tangent City Council meeting, McCollaum didn’t have a fence, so his animals were wandering over to other properties.
At the same meeting the city passed that poultry control ordinance that banned roosters in town and restricted the number of hens on any one property to five, the number of pigeons to 12, and the number of any other kind of poultry to two. Chicks under four months don’t count toward the maximum numbers allowed.
City Manager Georgia Edwards explained at the meeting that the city would not go out looking for problems, but would respond to complaints, according to the draft meeting minutes.
The poultry control ordinance was prompted in part by complaints from residents regarding roosters in town.
McCollaum said he has had numerous chickens, ducks and geese on his property for more than three years. He is on 100 percent disability, but has been taking college classes on and off and creating a large garden at his residence.
The Tangent resident said he was in the Army for six years and worked as an avionics communications technician. He added that he suffers from health issues due to his exposure to radiation, asbestos and other hazardous materials.
McCollaum also said he has been accepted into an in-patient PTSD clinic in Utah, and he hopes to be able to go there for treatment.
The Tangent employee who interacted with McCollaum was on paid administrative leave for a few days due to stress associated with the incident, Edwards said, in a brief interview.
Attempts to contact McCollaum’s attorney, Tim Felling, for additional comment were not immediately successful on Friday.