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Kan. man dressed as ‘Star Wars’ stormtrooper causes gun scare

When Chris Burns, 27, of Salina, started walking around downtown Salina on Monday afternoon in his new stormtrooper armor, someone called police to report the alleged gun-wielding man

By Michael Strand
The Salina Journal

SALINA, Kan. — Salinans are used to seeing people in military uniforms around town, and not just from the various branches of the U.S. military, but from Canada and other nations.

So you wouldn’t think one stormtrooper from the Galactic Empire would cause much of a fuss.

However, when Chris Burns, 27, of Salina, started walking around downtown Salina on Monday afternoon in his new stormtrooper armor, someone called police to report the alleged gun-wielding man.

The outfit Burns was wearing is a replica of the outfits worn by the Empire’s soldiers in the “Star Wars” films. He was carrying a replica of a laser “blaster” used in the films.

Capt. Mike Sweeney of the Salina Police Department said Tuesday that it’s legal to carry a firearm.

However, Sweeney said that after locating Burns, officers “counseled” him that his actions were likely to alarm people and that police would be called to investigate.

“I was a little bit surprised when they came up,” Burns said Tuesday morning. “I guess they had to check on it.”

He said he ordered the outfit weeks ago from a company in the United Kingdom, and it arrived Thursday.

Since then, he and his friend Josh Carter have spent some of their free time making videos starring his alter ego, “Stormtrooper Sam,” and posting them to Vine, a Twitter-owned service that lets users share six-second videos.

The first video was shot at Jimmy John’s, where Burns is an area manager. Since that was posted, the pair have made several more.

That’s what they were doing downtown on Monday. While downtown, Carter stopped in an office to speak to an attorney, leaving Burns to wander in the parking lot behind UMB Bank, 100 S. Santa Fe.

“The police asked what I was doing, and if I was hot,” Burns said. “They didn’t tell me to stop, just that if I kept it up we’d be seeing each other a lot. They were pretty nice about it.”

200 Followers On Vine
So far, the “Stormtrooper Sam” page on Vine has attracted close to 200 followers, as Burns and Carter chronicle the plight of the lonely soldier stuck on Earth.

One of their stops Tuesday was Conklin Cars, 2700 S. Ninth, where Stormtrooper Sam was looking to buy a wheeled vehicle after crashing his landspeeder.

The two talked to a few of the salespeople before Jeremiah Herwig agreed to be in the video, showing Stormtrooper Sam several cars on the lot, none of which was quite what Sam was seeking.

For the finale, Herwig shows Sam a Honda with stormtrooper seat covers, stormtrooper decals and other “Star Wars” accessories. It’s actually Burns’ vehicle.

Selfies With Stormtrooper
While showing off the vehicle, Herwig waves his hand in Sam’s face and says, “This is the car you’re looking for,” a derivation of one of the film’s best-known lines.

“This doesn’t happen every day,” Herwig said after shooting was completed. “I’m a big ‘Star Wars’ fan, and this was fun.”

Several other employees came out for “selfies” with the stormtrooper.

The next shot of the day depicted Stormtrooper Sam deciding to get a bicycle and finding out how tough it is to ride in all that armor.

“I just love ‘Star Wars’ in general, and the stormtrooper is a very iconic character,” Burns said. “I’m coming up on my 10,000th day of being alive and wanted to do something fun and getting myself this was it. Now that I have it, I want to have fun with it.”

Copyright 2014 The Salina Journal

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