A man Altoona police accused of breaking into an abandoned motel said the episode was blown out of proportion.
Brandon L. Maybush, 27, of 2713 Fairway Drive said he didn't break into the motel but entered the former Quality Inn at 2915 Pleasant Valley Blvd. because he heard someone inside as he took a short cut home about 9 a.m. Thursday.
Altoona police arrested Maybush inside the office area of the motel and charged him with felony criminal trespass and a misdemeanor count of possessing an instrument of crime - a flashlight.
Police said Maybush had a flashlight, a headlamp and 28 of the motel's access cards, but Maybush said he keeps a lot of things in his backpack that police didn't list, such as a two-quart canteen, bungy cords, combat gauze and a tarp.
Maybush, who was discharged from the Army a year ago after a career that took him to Afghanistan once and Iraq three times, said he carries the backpack because he just had surgery on his left wrist to repair shrapnel damage.
"I can't carry anything," Maybush said Tuesday. "That's the whole reason I carry the bag."
He keeps survival-type items in it because he likes to be prepared, a hold-over from his military days, he said.
"You'll never catch me without a light on me," Maybush said, pointing out he keeps a flashlight on his key chain.
As for the 28 room keys he admittedly took, he said he did so because of the pizza coupons printed on each of them. There were thousands of the cards and he grabbed a few to save a bit of money, not because he thought he could use them to get into the motel's rooms, he said.
"I heard something, all the doors were wide open in the place," Maybush said. "I walked in and saw the cops. I waved at them. Now I'm charged with a felony."
Maybush, who said he is slated to go back to school next month to become a mechanic, said he doesn't have any money, so he'll be represented by a public defender when he appears at Central Court today for his preliminary hearing.