ROANOKE, Va. – Famous rocker Ted Nugent performed in Roanoke on Tuesday night despite protests in the weeks leading up to the show. Nugent is a gun rights supporter and encourages open carry, but his fans were told at the last minute that they were not allowed to bring their guns inside the Berglund Performing Arts Theater.
It was Ted Nugent's management that made the decision to not allow guns into the show. The Berglund Center said because it is city owned, it can't keep guns out unless the performers are the ones who request it, and that it was actually in Nugent's contract all along, but was in a sub-contract between Nugent and his promoter that wasn't shared with Berglund Center management until the last minute.
"It happened about five minutes before we opened doors, we had a security meeting before we opened doors and the subject came up and we said, 'Yes people will be bringing firearms,'" Berglund Center General Manager Robyn Schon said. And Nugent's people said, "Uh, no, our agreement says no.'"
A long line had gathered outside the doors waiting to get in when security came out and made the announcement that there had been a change in plans. Guns would not be allowed in, pat downs would be performed, and anyone with a gun would be asked to take it to their car.
"Given the things that have happened in nightclubs like the Pulse and what happened in Manchester, (Nugent's) security people are taking extra precautions," Schon said. "They are not novices; they are very seasoned people."
The announcement came as a change to prior rules where the venue discouraged guns, but couldn't ban people from bringing them on property. Most standing in line didn't even realize guns were at one point allowed in based on our off-the-cuff conversations with people. Two fans did have their guns turned away from the show, according to Schon, and Roanoke police had already brought in an increased presence in case something escalated.
"There's always that concern when other people are armed; however, if they're carrying legally, then we expect them to behave and act accordingly," Roanoke Police Lt. Jason Holt said, specifically citing events such as the Charlottesville riots where people did the opposite.
Roanoke police would not say if there had been any specific or credible threats to the event, only that there had been lots of attention leading up to it and they wanted to be prepared. They said it's normal to have a police presence at these type of events, but the increased presence was the department's doing.