Earlier this week, Robert Van Outlar sat on the front porch of a Schenectady, NY home and filmed a Facebook Live video of an hour-long police standoff. When he began, he didn’t know the standoff would end in a shootout, the video would get almost a quarter million views, or if his phone could hold enough memory to capture the scene.
We went Two Buttons Deep with Robert aka Big Rob aka Bobby Snacks to get the details about the curious, comical guy behind the camera that day in this exclusive Q&A.
Q: How soon into the incident did you realize it might be worth broadcasting?
A: I started to actually record on my phone once i came out my Spiritual meeting, but about 3 minutes into filming, once I saw that more cops where coming to the scene and had their guns out , I said to myself “Shit is about to get real, I don’t have enough memory on my phone for this.”
Q: Why did you stream on Facebook live instead of record a regular video?
A: I have used FB live platform before and I like it because it doesn’t save straight to your phone’s memory, and it is the closest thing to real-time you can get with videos. I actually learned how to FB live and YouTube live stream at my church, “NewDay Christian Empowerment Center” in Schenectady. They welcomed me in when I used to be in the streets heavy. I had a passion for film, so they gave me the opportunity to learn how to operate a camera and set it up to stream Sunday services at the church.
Q: Tell me a little about what you were thinking, because your commentary is spectacular throughout the entire hour of the livestream.
A: Originally, I just wanted to show my immediate friends what was going on in our town, but once I realized how many people where watching, it pretty much took on a life of its own. I like to joke and make people around me laugh, so the commentary you hear on the video is mostly my personality mixed with the intensity of the moment. I process serious moments with humor kinda like Deadpool –I remember when I was in boot camp I would always get in trouble because I’d always be laughing.
Q:What was everyone else doing? Some of the photos show a large crowd nearby –did the police notice you at all or try and stop what you were doing?
A: Most of the people that you see in the pictures weren’t as close to the action as I was; they were on the righthand side of where I was standing. I was dead center in front of the house, so most of the police officers couldn’t really focus on me because they had their backs to me. They did yell out an occasional, “Get the f*ck back,” and since I am from a Navy background, I’m kind of used to verbal commands like that.
Q: Just curious, do you know your neighbor? Were you fearful during the standoff?
A: I actually don’t live next to the guy in the video, I think the news meant neighbor as in fellow “Schenectadian.” I was scared during the shootout and when S.W.A.T. detonated the Flash Bang. But like I said my fear mostly comes out in humor.
Someone told me it’s a learned behavior that protects my mind from getting too overwhelmed. I’m pretty sure [my sense of humor] kept me alive a couple of times, but I’m just glad that even though we don’t know each other he’s alive and i hope he changes his life for the better. If God can do it for me he can do it for him too.
Q: You have a lively personality and had been interviewed after-the-fact by some local news outlets. Any inspiration to keep doing stuff like this in the future?
A: Thank you I really appreciate that. I have been giving it some thought the past couple of days. “Everyone and their MaMa” has been telling me that I’m good at it. I think I might have to look into some type of vlog, or freelance journalism. I love to film, so hopefully one day I can get more camera equipment and do some short films.
Also, wanted to add that i would never try to capitalize off of another human beings misfortune. I know what it feels like to be in pain, and although I don’t agree with that young man’s actions that day, I feel it was necessary for him to go through that to realize things in himself that he might have to acknowledge. With that being said, I commend the Schenectady Police Department.
I think there’s a job for you here at Two Buttons Deep.