BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The shaded patch of green grass in the middle of a strip mall parking lot isn't exactly a war zone. Even so, Navy veteran Steven Castellano vigilantly paced back and forth. His hands rested on the butt of a rifle strapped to his chest.
"My oath of enlistment never expired. It's only right to keep those who keep us safe, keep them safe too," said Castellano.
Castellano served 14 years. Some of that time was spent with a base security detail. While he no longer wears a uniform, he said in the wake of a shocking attack in Chattanooga that left five military members dead, it's his duty to protect those who still do.
"The fact that our men and women have no way of helping themselves when they're in our own country is disgusting," said Castellano.
So the veteran picked up his personal guns and went to the Navy and Army recruiting center off Siegen Lane. For two days, he has stood guard. He said he'll continue to stand there as long as he feels needed.
The sight has been surprising for some.
"It was shocking to say the least. I didn't expect to see that, someone with two guns on them, in a small area like this," said nearby shopper Josie Darden.
One store manager said she had customers scared to leave their cars. However, she said most understand once she explains why Castellano is there.
"I felt like I was in a foreign country," said manager Christi Brown. "When you come to work and you see a guy standing armed, you know it just felt unnatural to have that. But, if can happen in Chattanooga, it can happen in Baton Rouge."
Many people have shown support, dropping off water and food. Some shoppers just come up to ask why he's there.
East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Deputies have also stopped to talk with Castellano about what he's doing. The Sheriff's Office confirms he's not breaking any laws. Castellano also said he plans to check in with deputies daily. He said if something suspicious pops up, he'll alert law enforcement. He just wants to make it known that the service members here are not alone.
"I don't want anything bad to happen to them," said Castellano.
The recruiting office was not allowed to comment. A call to the office's public information officer was not returned Wednesday night.