Police Ramp Up Patrols After Man With Rifle Allegedly Said He Was 'Going to Kill Black People'

A man in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, allegedly made a threat against Black people while walking around carrying a rifle, prompting police in the city to ramp up patrols.

Officers were called to the 3500 block of Blanche Avenue in the city at around 4.30 p.m. on Saturday after the man was seen there with a rifle slung over his back, Cleveland Heights police chief Annette Mecklenburg said in a news release.

"Officers also spoke to witnesses who had notified the Police Department. While speaking with observers, at no time did anyone confirm that the man acted unlawfully making threats or pointing the rifle at any person," Mecklenburg said. It is legal to openly carry a weapon in the state in most scenarios.

However, police said they had been alerted on Sunday to a social media post that alleged the man had said he was "going to kill Black people."

Mecklenburg said officers are taking the claims "very seriously" and are working to locate the person who reported hearing the threat.

"Upon learning this information, officers are attempting to identify and locate the person who heard the man make these threats which we take very seriously," she said.

"As we investigate, we will be increasing patrols in the area where the man was seen walking yesterday and across the City."

The post, shared on Instagram, shows a bearded man dressed in black with a long gun slung over his shoulder.

The caption adds: "i'm sorry my neighbor didn't show me his face. but please all of my friends IN THE CLEVELAND HEIGHTS AREA !!!! this man and his son is walking around with a gun and the man says "he's going to kill black people" with that gun. because he hates us and his son is there to point us out while the father aims and shoots.

"PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE BE SAFE OR STAY INSIDE THE HOUSE PLEASE !!! watch out for this kid and a man with a long brown beard !!!!! PLEASE SHARE FOR AWARENESS!!!" The user who posted it has been contacted for comment.

Cassandra McDonald, the president of the Euclid chapter of the NAACP, said police need to take action before "something happens."

"Open carry and freedom of speech is one thing, but what this person said out of his own mouth; and if what is stated that he said is factual, then Cleveland Heights Police along with the Prosecutors office should act on this according to both state and local law," she said in a statement to 19 News.

"This isn't a case of over-reacting; we are being proactive as we should. I question his mental state and having a gun. Who's going to take the blame if in fact something happens?"

McDonald has been contacted for additional comment.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Cleveland Heights Police Department at 216-321-1234.

This article has been updated with information from the Cleveland Heights Police Department.

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Stock photo. Police in Cleveland Heights, Ohio said they ramped up patrols after a man walking around with a gun allegedly threatened to kill Black people. Getty