After years of neighbors proclaiming things like, “He’ll never be put in the ground” and “I await the day they bury that man,” Shelter Islanders learned that cantankerous neighbor Old Man McGumbus has, in fact, been underground for quite some time, but it hasn’t stopped him from causing headaches for local police.
At the end of November, beach replenishment crews from the Shelter Island Corps of Engineers unearthed a fortified bunker the 104-year-old WWII veteran and flamethrower specialist, who was, of course, alive and well. McGumbus and his bunker were reinterred and he has remained there since. Unfortunately, the old warrior and trouble go hand in hand, even from deep beneath the sand.
On Friday, local treasure hunter, Metal Detector Jake, as he’s known around the Island, says he was doing his usual rounds near Wades Beach when he spotted a “fancy looking lady” writing furiously and talking into a metal pipe in the sand. Police were called and a minor fracas, with a dash of gunplay, ensued.
“I thought she was a crazy person, so I called the cops,” Jake explains. “Then I remembered McGumbus’s bunker is right there—it’s murder on my metal detector, so I know it well,” Jake adds. “As I got closer, I could hear the conversation through the metal pipe. It was an interview, and a pretty fascinating one at that,” he continues. “But I got so engrossed in McGumbus’s stories, I forgot to call the police back and tell them everything was fine.”
About 45 minutes later, the Hamptons Police Shelter Island Quick Response Team arrived on the scene and approached the unsuspecting reporter, 27-year-old Tara Auslösen, who was still listening to McGumbus through the metal pipe and taking notes, oblivious to the activity around her. A moment later, chaos erupted on the beach.
“It turns out this lady is from kind of survivalist magazine, Apocalypse Militia Gazette-Times, so the second the cops touch her shoulder, she’s sprung to her feet and pointing one of those Desert Eagle pistols at them,” Jake recounts breathlessly. “I couldn’t believe it, and the whole time McGumbus is egging her on from down in his bunker, yelling stuff like, ‘Kick ’em, Tara, bite ’em, shoot ’em in the knees!’ Can you imagine?”
Thankfully, the standoff ended quickly once the reporter realized who stood at the business end of her gun and police opted to forgive the indiscretion, letting her off with a warning. “For his part in trying to hurt our officers by proxy, McGumbus’s words meet both actus reus and mens rea requirements,” Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch explains, adding, “He’s been charged and we’ll arrest him the moment he exits that bunker.”
Hirsch says McGumbus has agreed to several more interviews, so officers will be watching his actions very carefully in the coming days.