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Government & Politics

Billings Shooting Range Receives Harassing Calls For Views Expressed on NPR

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Tempers flare online and off

This week YPR published a story about local reactions to racist tweets President Trump posted last weekend. One man whose comments were in our story says his business received abusive calls and messages after the story was broadcast.

He begins by walking through what happened when he got to work the morning after the story aired.

“So when we got to work this morning it was kind of a standard day. Jerome, my gunsmith, starts checking email,” says Andrew Stapleton, who runs a shooting range in Billings.

Earlier this week, his voice went out on national radio saying he doesn’t support everything the president does, but he stands by him when it comes to Trump’s Tweet calling for four Congresswomen of color to, "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."

“Essentially, how I read this is don't throw rocks if you live in a glass house,” he says.

The morning after the story aired, Stapleton says his business started receiving calls in response.

“The phone calls are saying stuff to my gunsmith like, ‘I hope the building collapses on you.’ One just yelled ‘bigot,’” says Stapleton.

He says all of the area codes were from out of state.

“They just call. They say their slander, they say their curse words. Then they hang up. They don't want to have a conversation. They just want us to hear their point of view or their feelings and hang up the phone. It blows me away this is the reaction we're getting,” he says.

Stapleton says he thinks this is how people react to Trump’s Tweets -- they take pieces of a larger story and make it what they want to be.

He says he wasn’t aware Trump’s “go back” Tweet was part of a larger thread, where the president incorrectly wrote the Congresswomen originally came from other countries.

“If he was bringing up race that's uncalled for,” he says

Stapleton says he doesn’t have a Donald Trump flag in his yard but he does respect the office of the Commander in Chief.

“I do to this day think he should probably not Twitter as much as he Twitters but it's a public forum,” he says.