By Brian Godette | U.S. Army Reserve Command
Turbulent times call for vigilance on the part of every Citizen, to ensure the safety of not only the ones they love, but the public in general.
In a time in our global society where terror attacks have become more frequent, and the wake of its damage threatens life, no matter whose life it is, every small measure to counter it is of significant importance. Most cases of proactive measures begin with “see something, say something.”
A Sunday afternoon NFL football game presented a situation for one man to do just that at Levi Stadium, December 20, 2015.
“Saturday evening, my friend gave me his and his wife’s tickets to Sunday’s 49ers game,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Williams, Unit Administrator assigned to Pacific Division, 75th Training Command.
Williams has been a U.S. Army Reserve Soldier since 1996 and has over 25 years of total time in the Army to include his active duty service and currently works as a civilian employee with the 75th Training Command. The years in the military have provided Williams a foundation of training which he credits for his perseverance.
“We had gotten there long before the game started and went to our seats and as we were sitting there, I noticed a man acting very suspicious,” Williams said. “Because of my Army training and additional training that I have been through as a Physical Security Officer, I was able to recognize the man’s suspicious behavior.”
|U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Brian Williams attends a military function dressed in his Army Service Uniform. Crediting military training and vigilance, Williams reported a man acting suspiciously taking pictures of Levi Stadium (home of Super Bowl 50) with what appeared to be a small camera and some sort of transmission device. Stadium authorities detained the man and confirmed Williams’ suspicions, stating the FBI and Homeland Security officials were holding the man for further questioning. (Photo courtesy of Sgt. 1st Class Brian Williams)|
Williams, who attended the game with his fiancée, Eileen Clemens, began to watch the man closely, noticing the man was looking around himself as to ensure he wasn’t being watched by others.
“He then turned sideways, which is when I noticed he had a very small camera on a little stick that as he held it, rested on his hand,” Williams said. “I also noticed he had some other very small electronic device in the other hand and after he took a picture he would use the other device, which I believe was allowing him to send the photos to whomever he was communicating with.”
Again, military training and a sort of “spidey sense” to always be aware of surroundings and to notice the slightest thing out of the ordinary, kicked in for Williams.
“The man moved about 10 feet down and did the whole procedure over again. After the third time of him doing this, that is when I told my fiancée that something isn’t right and that I was going to go report it,“ Williams said.
Williams made his way to the nearest security office and reported what he saw. Security officers called in the report, and within minutes had the suspect surrounded, talking with him and later escorting him to an area downstairs.
The gravity of the situation was heightened due to Levi Stadium being the home of the upcoming Super Bowl 50, an event which brings in tens of thousands of spectators with millions more watching worldwide.
The FBI held a security training exercise at the stadium in November for that particular reason, and coincidentally prior to the deadly terror attacks in Paris occurred.
Williams and his fiancée returned to their seats after reporting the incident to watch the game they came to see. It wasn’t long before security officers came back to the couple.
“Several security officers came to me thanking me and gave me an update,” Williams said. “The FBI, Homeland Security, and police were questioning him and they saw that the man had been taking photos of the stadium and made some calls, so they were tracing the numbers.”
They kept thanking me for being vigilant about it and reporting it. The officers presented me two passes into the clubs at the stadium where only elite people go and told my fiancée and I to go and enjoy ourselves and tour the facility,” Williams said.
The couple did just that, amazed at how quickly the officers responded to the report and at the gracious treatment they received.
“I feel very strongly that every citizen could have the same effect with or without training. If someone sees something that doesn’t look right, report it,” Williams said. “We need to stand together and protect one another by being vigilant and not being afraid to report suspicious activity.”
My advice to others who could potentially find themselves in a familiar setting would be, follow your heart and feelings. If you are feeling something is not right, don’t ignore it,” he added.
As a Soldier, Williams did as he was trained, and as a Citizen, he followed his heart. The combination of the two highlight the commitment of U.S. Army Reserve Citizen-Soldiers.
“I’m humbled to see the effect my actions have made and to know that I may have saved thousands of lives and might have thwarted an attack. I feel more confident than before, knowing I made a difference, especially in these days,” Williams said.
On the way to the game I told my fiancée that I have a feeling there is a reason I am to be there. Now I know why.”