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Film of Arizona teen dressed in sheet with fake grenade launcher leads to arrest

An Arizona man was arrested after posting a video showing a 16-year old boy walking the streets of Phoenix with a fake rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The man said the incident was staged to test police response time following the deadly theater shooting in Colorado. TODAY's Natalie Morales reports.

PHOENIX -- Police have arrested an Arizona man who allegedly filmed his 16-year-old nephew walking city streets dressed in a sheet and carrying a fake grenade launcher, authorities said on Wednesday.

Michael David Turley, 39, was arrested Monday over the making of the video, in which an unidentified narrator says he aims to discover how quickly police in Phoenix would respond following the fatal shooting of 12 people at the screening of the “Dark Knight Rises” Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado, in July.

The bizarre, amateurish video depicts a person with a fairly realistic but fake grenade launcher walking around a Phoenix intersection in what appears to be a blue sheet with dark material covering his head and face.


Made eight days after the shooting at a screening of a Batman movie, the film was posted on YouTube and titled, "Dark Knight Shooting Response, Rocket Launcher Police Test."

"Given this event, I wanted to run a little test here in Phoenix, Arizona," the narrator says in the film. "I want to find out how safe I really am, and I want to know the response time of the Phoenix police department."

The filmmaker claims it took 15 minutes for police to respond.

The first officer finds the filmmaker and the teen standing in a driveway. The officer calmly tells the boy to put down the weapon and the man to put down the camera. He didn't draw his gun.

Officer James Holmes, a police spokesman, said Turley told the officer they were just filming a movie, and the officer took down their names and left.

Three Aurora theater shooting victims suing Cinemark; theater to reopen in 2013

After interviewing people who called 911 and later seeing the video posted on YouTube, police arrested Turley.

"It surprised us that he actually put that video on YouTube," Holmes said.

Not 'fun and games'
Holmes said the police response took just over three minutes from the first call, and a helicopter and SWAT team was dispatched as backup.

The Anonymous Filmmaker explores how the Phoenix Police Department reacts days after the event at the Century 16 Movie Theater in Aurora, Colorado where a gunman, James Holmes, killed 12 people and injured 58 more at the premiere of Batman The Dark Knight Rises. In our Hollywood style video, a man resembling a terrorist paces around a busy street in Phoenix Arizona carrying a rocket launcher until the police apprehend him. This film explores the response time and reaction of law enforcement within the Phoenix rural community. You will be shocked to see what happens.

Turley was charged with knowingly giving a false impression of a terrorist act, endangerment, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and misconduct involving a simulated explosive.

He is being held in county jail on a $5,000 bond. If convicted, he faces up to 45 months in prison, said Maricopa County Attorney's Office spokesman Jerry Cobb.

"We take something like this seriously," Phoenix police spokesman Officer James Holmes said. "It wasn't fun and games to all the people who were affected by this. We don't behave like this in this country to prove a point."

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The 16-year-old has not been arrested, Holmes said.

"The video told us what Turley was intentionally trying to do -- creating a terrorist hoax for his own personal ideals," he said.

Turley doesn't have a listed phone number. He didn't immediately respond to messages sent Wednesday through the YouTube account.

An attorney for Turley could not be immediately reached for comment.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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