FARGO – A pair of NDSU students got quite the scare Monday night when armed Fargo police officers mistook their telescope for a rifle.
Levi Joraanstad and Colin Waldera were setting up the large device to take pictures of the moon behind their apartment's garage on Dakota Dr. N when they were blinded by a bright light and told to stop moving.
But because they couldn't see who was shining the light at them, they thought it was all a dumb joke.
Authorities say an officer patrolling the area had spotted the two out of the corner of his eye, and thought Joraanstad's dark colored sweater with white lettering on the back looked like a tactical vest and that he might be carrying a rifle.
He checked area agencies to make sure none had any operations going on before he called for backup.
Three or four officers made verbal contact.
Joraanstad says what was especially frightening was what could have happened, he says the two originally thought the whole thing was a prank by some neighboring college students they had talked to earlier and continued digging in their bags - ignoring the officers shouting.
"I was kind of fumbling around with my stuff and my roommate and I were kind of talking, we were kind of wondering, what the heck's going on?" said NDSU junior Levi Joraanstad. "This is pretty dumb that these guys are doing this. And then they started shouting to quit moving or we could be shot. And so at that moment we kind of look at each other and we're thinking we better take this seriously."
Police say the two were never in any danger and that it was a situation of "better safe than sorry."
Joraanstad says the officers were very apologetic when they realized their mistake, and that they explained what had happened.
SWAT was not called in.