Supervisor Todd Spitzer renewed his permit to carry a concealed weapon last week, five days after it was revealed that he armed himself and handcuffed a fellow diner inside a Foothill Ranch restaurant in April.
Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said Monday her department approved Spitzer’s renewal because he met both requirements for being allowed to carry a weapon: he demonstrated a need to protect himself and has “good moral character.”
Spitzer, the elected chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, applied to have his permit renewed Aug. 30, and the Sheriff’s Department approved the request Wednesday. His permit had expired July 17.
Spitzer did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.
But he said during a recent interview that he has been permitted to carry a gun for 25 years and did not indicate that his permit had ever expired.
Spitzer had a loaded gun inside his car when a man approached him inside Wahoo’s Fish Taco on April 3 and made him uncomfortable by talking about religion. Spitzer’s gun permit was valid at the time.
Spitzer, a volunteer reserve officer for the Los Angeles Police Department from 1990 to 2000, had been eating alone when diner Jeovany Castellano approached his table. It was Good Friday. Spitzer told the man he was a believer but asked to be left alone.
Castellano persisted, and Spitzer said he feared for his safety and the safety of everyone around him when he saw Castellano eye a dinner knife on his table. So Spitzer called 911, then, with deputies on the way, he went to his car to retrieve his gun and handcuffs.
Spitzer brought the gun, still inside a fanny pack, into the restaurant, where he handcuffed the man and detained him until deputies arrived.
Deputies determined Castellano, who was unarmed, had allowed Spitzer to handcuff him and that neither man committed a crime. Castellano told the Register he barely remembers the incident.
Hutchens said Monday that Spitzer’s handcuffing of Castellano, at the time a counselor at Boys Town in Santa Ana, had no bearing on whether to renew Spitzer’s gun permit because he acted lawfully.
“I don’t think he did anything wrong,” Hutchens said. “He perceived a threat. He acted upon that. … It was resolved; nobody got injured, and it was over.”
Spitzer is among about 5,000 people in Orange County who are permitted to carry weapons concealed from view.
His permit renewal was processed under a new requirement imposed by Hutchens this year that permit holders must prove they have a good reason to carry a gun beyond self-defense and the desire for protection.
Spitzer’s application lists two weapons and describes a history of threats against him.
“I have arrested and prosecuted thousands of individuals. I am a recognized public figure and need to protect myself and family against threats,” Spitzer wrote.
The Register requested information from the Sheriff’s Department about the status of Spitzer’s permit on Sept. 4. The department, however, did not release any information until Friday.
On Monday, Lt. Jeff Hallock confirmed for the first time that Spitzer’s permit had lapsed for several weeks.
Hutchens said she doesn’t see permit applications and renewal requests and instead delegates those decisions. She said she wasn’t aware of Spitzer’s application until last week.
“As long as they meet the criteria, it doesn’t matter who they are,” Hutchens said.
Scott Baugh, former chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, said he emailed Spitzer after learning about the Wahoo’s confrontation and said the incident made him question the supervisor’s judgment.
“Todd Spitzer with handcuffs and a gun is far more dangerous to the citizens of Orange County than a counselor looking at a butter knife,” Baugh said.
Hutchens said Spitzer’s permit allowed him to bring a loaded gun into a restaurant because it’s been determined he can do so safely. And she said Spitzer didn’t do anything anyone else couldn’t have done, noting that Castellano had allowed the supervisor to handcuff him.
“He’s a citizen,” Hutchens said. “If he perceives a threat, he can certainly take action on that.”
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