Ben Carson says he was once held at gunpoint at a Baltimore Popeye's

Dr. Ben Carson, a Republican presidential candidate and retired Johns Hopkins Hospital neurosurgeon, said he once got the business end of a gun stuck in his ribs in a Popeye's restaurant in Baltimore.

"Guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs, and I just said, 'I believe that you want the guy behind the counter,'" Carson said on Sirius XM Radio on Wednesday. "I redirected him."


The comment garnered widespread attention in national media, particularly because it followed others that Carson has made in recent days — and which drew criticism — about the mass shooting last week at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. On Fox News, he said he "would not just stand there and let [the gunman] shoot me. I would say 'Hey, guys, everybody attack him! He may shoot me, but he can't get us all.'"

On Thursday, Carson was again on Sirius XM Radio, and was asked about the resolution of the incident in Baltimore.


"The resolution was, [the gunman] said, 'Oh, sorry,' and then he went to the appropriate person behind the register who gave him the money, and he left the store running before the police got there," Carson said.

Michael Smerconish, the radio host, asked Carson why the cashier was the "appropriate person" — and whether there was a contradiction between his actions in Baltimore and his advice for those in Oregon.

"They are two very different situations," Carson said in response. "I'm not justifying the fact that he's coming in to rob the place [in Baltimore], but you've got to be able to distinguish between somebody who is trying to rob a joint and somebody who is trying to kill you."

"I wasn't fearful for my life at all," Carson said of the Baltimore incident. "I knew why he was there."

Carson is currently polling in second place for the GOP presidential nomination.

Carson, who now lives in Florida, did not say when or where the incident in Baltimore occurred, or whether he filed a police report. He did say he was a doctor at the time.

A Carson spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment Thursday or for more details as to when and where the incident occurred.

Baltimore Police said Thursday that they could not find any report related to the incident based on the little information that Carson had provided.

"We searched for it and based on the general statement, we have no report," said T.J. Smith, the department's chief spokesman. "Need more info."

There has been a Popeye's franchise on North Broadway — just south of the Hopkins medical campus — for many years. But without more information, Carson just as well could have been talking about a Popeye's in Baltimore County, where he used to live, Smith said.

A request for comment from Popeye's was not returned Thursday.


Carson moved to Baltimore decades ago after graduating from medical school, and performed his residency at Hopkins. He went on to direct pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center for 29 years.

In 2002, Carson was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer, leading him to forsake meat and junk food and take up a diet of organic fruits and vegetables.

"Lots of salads, lettuce and tomatoes and cukes and carrots and beets and onions and things like that," Carson said of his diet in a 2002 story in The Baltimore Sun.

But Carson only laughed — and didn't mention his current diet — when asked about his being a doctor who eats fried chicken in one of his Sirius interviews this week.

"You have to die from something," he said.


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