LOWELL, Mass. (AP) — A Lowell man spotted by an off-duty police officer pointing a gun as he ran after a car this week had a pretty good excuse —he told investigators he was chasing drug dealers out of his neighborhood.

Authorities are skeptical.

The Sun (http://bit.ly/1FcDsjT ) reports that Joseph Rosado was held without bail pending a hearing to determine whether he is dangerous after pleading not guilty Thursday to unlawful carrying of a firearm and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Police say the off-duty officer saw the 23-year-old Rosado on Wednesday standing next to a car and arguing with its occupants.

When the car started to pull away, Rosado pulled out a handgun and ran after it, pointing the gun toward the vehicle's occupants.

Defense attorney Robert Normandin said Rosado stands by his story.

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Information from: The (Lowell, Mass.) Sun, http://www.lowellsun.com