My name is Dave Muscato; I am the Public Relations Director for American Atheists. I am at the Skepticon conference in Springfield, MO, although I am attending on my own “off-duty” this weekend and not in a working capacity for American Atheists.
Early Saturday morning, there was a security incident and I would like to clear up any misconceptions, explain where things stand, and tell you how Skepticon has resolved the situation.
About 4 AM on Saturday morning, another attendee of the conference made a graphic and direct verbal death threat to me while brandishing a semi-automatic pistol, which this person claimed was loaded. The incident occurred on E St Louis Street outside, away from conference property and neither in the conference hotel nor in the expo center. I was with a small group of people who were able to distract this person with conversation and diffuse things until we were able to return to the University Plaza hotel, where the person went to his room. I reported the incident immediately to hotel security and the Springfield police, and made statements on the record about what happened.
Skepticon organizers have been fully informed of all details of the incident, and all organizers and volunteers, as well as police and hotel security, have this person’s name and photograph. This person has agreed to leave the hotel and not return to Skepticon this year or in future years.
Skepticon organizers have been overwhelmingly supportive and competent. I was offered a security escort, which I appreciated, but felt was unnecessary and declined.
I still feel safe at Skepticon. I have been coming to Skepticon for four years now and intend to continue to donate and to return to Springfield for Skepticon 7.
I am not going to name the person involved in this incident at this time. Skepticon organizers and American Atheists have this person’s name and information. I will let them decide how to handle informing other event organizers about this situation.
What happens next depends on what American Atheists’ in-house counsel and the Springfield Police Department advise.
I would prefer not to discuss this incident further. I am OK. I thank everyone for their concern. I am extremely impressed and flattered with the outpouring of support from Skepticon organizers, other attendees, and speakers, as well as the support from the atheist community online.
I am here the rest of today but if I miss you, I will see you next year for Skepticon 7!