A Pennsylvania man who was arrested for trying to drive into New York City with a cache of weapons says he doesn't regret his actions but calls the presence of the guns an "oversight."
John Cramsey, 51, of Emmaus, and two co-defendants were detained in June as they prepared to enter the Holland Tunnel in a truck carrying a military-style rifle, a shotgun and five handguns. Their attorneys have said the police search was illegal. All three have pleaded not guilty to weapons charges.
Cramsey, whose daughter died of a heroin overdose in February, posted online shortly before the arrest that he was heading to New York to "rescue" a 16-year-old girl whose friend had overdosed.
He told The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens' Voice in an interview that he forgot that he had weapons in his truck when he set out to try to help the girl. Still, he said he doesn't regret his actions.
"I don't regret I spent three months in jail. I don't regret I went there that day. If I had to go back again, I would," Cramsey said. "I was on a humanitarian mission to protect a life."
Cramsey said he got a call on Father's Day weekend — the four-month anniversary since his daughter's death and "the worst Father's Day of my life" — saying a young woman from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, had died of a heroin overdose in New York and a teenage friend who found her dead was begging for help to escape. The caller, a former camp counselor of the teen, played a voicemail she said was from the girl, he said.
"She was hysterical. She was in tears. She said she woke up in the middle of the night and her girlfriend was purple and dead. There was a sense of urgency. I don't normally run into scenes," said Cramsey, who said he didn't call police because he's tried that in the past with no success.
Cramsey rushed out of the house, he said, forgetting that he had the weapons in his work truck. The owner of a now-shuttered indoor shooting range, he compared them to a carpenter having hammers.
"I didn't take firearms up there to do anything illegal. They were in my truck because that's my business. It was an oversight," he said.
Cramsey also denied that he is a vigilante, saying that after his daughter's death, he identified the man who sold drugs to her. He said the dealer turned out to be a single father whose own girlfriend had died of an overdose. He was struggling to survive working two part-time jobs. Cramsey said he vetted the man's story and believed him.
"If I was a vigilante, he wouldn't be here and his kid would have no parent," Cramsey said. "My anger turned to compassion."
Now out of work and out of a home after his arrest, Cramsey said he's paying the price for fighting what he considers the good fight, even though his life was "turned upside down to help a stranger."
"I've given up my life for trying to get her out of there because I wish someone would have been there for my daughter," he said.