Hunter apologizes for Pelosi scare

3:09 PM, Aug 24, 2008   |    comments
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When Joseph Calanchini walked into the Grand Hyatt hotel with 2 rifles and 2 pistols Saturday around 4 p.m., Denver Police evacuated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from the hotel until they arrested Calanchini and made sure it was safe for Pelosi to return.

"I didn't even know the DNC was in town. I don't watch the news," said Joseph Calanchini from the Denver City Jail where he's being held on bond. "If I had known, I would have done things differently. It was a simple mistake."

Calanchini, who talked to 9Wants to Know from the Denver City Jail, says he had the weapons because he's getting ready to go on a hunting safari trip in Limpopo Basin, South Africa on August 28. He plans to hunt warthog, impala, baboon and jackals with a friend there.

He says he had just picked up his rifles from the Sportsman's Warehouse and had them in a locked gun case when he checked in at the Grand Hyatt. The clerk checking him in noticed the rifle case and called security.

"I'm amazed. It's not like they were illegal weapons, they were all registered to me," said Calanchini. "It was bad timing."

Police say Calanchini had permits for the rifles, but did not have concealed permits to carry two pistols that were found in his luggage. Calanchini says he forgot they were in there.

He was charged with unlawfully carrying weapons, a misdemeanor. Calanchini is being held on $10,000 bond at the Denver City Jail.

"I didn't mean to cause any problems," said Calanchini. "I'm sorry, it was not intentional."

Calanchini, who is registered as an independent, says he doesn't know who he's going to vote for yet.

"Would this affect my choice as a candidate? No. There's more important issues than this," said Calanchini.

The 29-year-old man from Pinedale, Wyoming, has never been arrested before. He says he's hunted for several years in places like Canada, California and Wyoming. He planned the safari to South Africa with a friend in June.

He says the U.S. Secret Service interviewed him for an hour and a half on Saturday to make sure he's not a threat.

"They know I'm not trying to do anything," he said.

Calanchini, who sells drilling tools across Colorado and Wyoming, says he is a frequent guest at the Grand Hyatt.

But the Grand Hyatt General Manager says he was not a registered guest at the hotel.

"We don't know why he was walking through our hotel," said General Manager Ed Bucholtz.

After police searched and towed Calanchini's car, they allowed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) back into the hotel.

"The speaker was never in any danger. And she appreciates the quick and professional response of the police," said Brendon Daly, Pelosi spokesman.

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