Man with gun at Southwestern Academy facing federal police impersonation charge

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FLINT (WJRT) (9/21/2018) - The man who allegedly wandered through Southwestern Academy in Flint with a handgun on his hip is facing federal police impersonation charges.

Court documents filed Friday say 31-year-old Tahir Ali Syed told school security officers that he is a federal agent and he would have 15,000 other federal agents there as back up if school officials continued bothering him.

Syed, who authorities believe lives in Flint, is charged in U.S. District Court with impersonating an officer of the United States and possession of a firearm in a school zone.

According to court documents:

Syed arrived at Southwestern Academy, which is the only high school in the Flint Community Schools district, around 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

He walked past two security officers in the booth near the entrance and said "hello." One of the officers noticed a .40-caliber handgun on Syed's hip as he walked past, concealed under a long green shirt.

Surveillance video from inside the school shows Syed walking into a classroom area and then through another door with his hand over his hip where the gun was strapped.

A third security officer confronted Syed from behind as he walked in a hallway. Syed turned to face the security officers with his hand on the gun and made the statement about being a federal agent.

A security supervisor joined the other officers talking to Syed in the hallway and advised him that he was not allowed to have a weapon in the building. The supervisor escorted him out the main entrance.

Security officers watched Syed run from the entrance to a white Chevrolet Impala with a "Baby on Board" sticker on the back window, get in and drive off westbound on 12th Street. They called 911 to advise the authorities of the situation.

Genesee County Sheriff's Office deputies initiated a traffic stop on Syed's car around 3:30 p.m. less than a mile from the school. He still had the handgun strapped to his hip in the car with about 25 bullets -- some in the gun and the rest in a second magazine in the car.

Police say Syed looked at them with a blank stare while they were questioning him at the traffic stop.

Classes had ended at Southwestern Academy for the day before Syed entered the building. About 80 students and staff still in the building at the time were placed in lockdown.

Flint Police Department Det. Sgt. Tyrone Booth has said investigators are not sure what Syed's intentions were at the school, but they don't believe he was there to commit any crimes.

He never took the handgun off his waist or made any threats to use it.

Flint Community Schools Superintendent Derrick Lopez said the district is working with the Flint Police Department on the investigation.

"We are reviewing safety protocols, and our continued adherence to them, for our in school and after school programs in light of this occurrence to ensure the safety and security of students and staff," he said in a statement.

Syed does not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon and court documents say the handgun was considered concealed because his shirt covered it.

He remained in the Genesee County Jail on Friday with no bond awaiting a detention hearing on Wednesday.

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