DA: Bicyclist must apologize in GJHS gun incident

The Mesa County District Attorney’s Office has deferred prosecution in the case of a 65-year-old man who caused a panic at Grand Junction High School while riding his bicycle past the school with a handgun on his hip.

District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said the man at the center of the case signed a contract last week with prosecutors, agreeing to complete 48 hours of public service and a firearms safety class, in addition to writing a letter of apology to staff and students at Grand Junction High School in connection with happenings on the morning of Aug. 29 that sent the school into a lockdown, while triggering a swift and large response from the Grand Junction Police Department.

No charges were filed in exchange for the man’s signing the contract, said Hautzinger, who declined to identify the man.

He’ll be charged with unlawfully possessing a weapon on school grounds, a low-rung class 6 felony, if he fails to live up to the terms of the deal in one year, Hautzinger said.

The man was cooperative with officers and apologetic, he said.

“I don’t think he had any criminal intent here, but at the same time there needs to be a message that it’s not OK to do this,” Hautzinger said.

An investigation showed the man holds a valid Colorado concealed-weapons permit, while he told officers he was lawfully concealing his .45 caliber handgun, which was holstered on his hip, Hautzinger said. The man told officers he tucked his T-shirt inside his waistband, exposing the weapon, at some point during his ride on Aug. 29, Hautzinger said.

“He said the (gun’s) hammer was poking him in the side,” he said. 

The handgun was exposed as he was riding on the sidewalk parallel to the school along Fifth Street, passing a group of students who appeared to him to be doing gymnastics in the grass. Several were scared and alerted staff, who called 911.

Hautzinger said the man told officers he was “surprised” to see students on the property at that hour. Police were called at 8:39 a.m.

The man was detained by officers at Fifth Street and Orchard Avenue, questioned and released. The school was placed on a lockdown for approximately 45 minutes before resuming normal operations. Hautzinger said the man lives in the area and told officers he was biking home after visiting a rental business at 12th Street and Gunnison Avenue. He has no criminal history, the DA said.

“I’m entirely confident this was the right way to go,” Hautzinger said of the deal.

The contract for deferred prosecution was signed Sept. 26, he said.

District 51 spokeswoman Christy McGee said the high school had not received a written apology as of Wednesday.


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PART 1 of 2. I hate MSM stories that are written as this one about the saga of the gun-toting bicycle rider. My problem is that insufficient specific facts accompany the story for the common-sense, common-law “reasonable man” to be able to know whether or not there is probable cause to believe any crime was committed. Be that as it may, the local DA, Pete Hautzinger, is quoted by the Sentinel as saying he believes “there needs to be a message that it’s not OK to do this” sent to the public. Logic dictates that would depend on what the message is, and what his exact meaning of “this” is.
In this case, the message, oh so subtley written, appears to be that if certain “The sky is falling!” Chicken Littles and Nervous Nellies on the GJHS staff don’t like the 2nd Amendment or Colorado gun law, that alone is sufficient reason to constitute “disorderly conduct”. That’s a crock of bologna on its face. Let’s look at the law. I suggest folks read for themselves District of Columbia v. Heller - 07-290 (2008) http://bit.ly/PBKfYe and McDonald v. Chicago - 08-1521 (2010) http://bit.ly/PBKsdZ , the two recent U.S. Supreme Court opinions clarifying the 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms as being an individual right. Nowhere do the Supremes remotely suggest that riding around on a bicycle while carrying a gun and minding your own business per se constitutes “disorderly conduct”. In Colorado, the controlling law (http://coloradogunlaws.com) is that the law-abiding citizen with a clean record can carry guns openly. Police like to add the imaginary codicil “in such a way as to not constitute disorderly conduct”. Disorderly conduct is an entirely separate issue from guns.
It is not crystal clear exactly where the bicycle was being ridden. Was it on the East or West side of 5th Street? I am forced to presume the East side because the West side could not be logically argued to be “on school property”. I would be curious to research the law to see if traveling on a public side walk at the edge of school property minding one’s own business constituted precisely “on school property”. Does a public sidewalk suddenly become “school property” the instant it passes through school property? I doubt it. Seems to me the relevant question is whether or not it is permissible to ride a bicycle on public sidewalks in Colorado. And that type of conduct, in an of itself hardly constitutes “disorderly conduct”. Nor does it have anything to do with guns.

PART 2 of 2. The point is, either a crime was committed or it was not. If not, then the whole bruhaha is an political-agenda-based non-story. If the crime was riding a bicycle on a sidewalk, why inject the gun issue into the situation just because some school officials used overly hasty and poorly thought out judgment? In my view, depending on what actually happened, reporter Paul Shockley’s words, “65-year-old man who caused a panic” may be blatantly false and/or politically motivated, depending on whether or not any gun-related crime was actually committed. Of course, thanks to the incompleteness of the story, we don’t know if the “person of interest” was posing or posturing in any weird or threatening way as to reasonably cause fear. I presume not, or any such irregularities or weirdnesses would have almost certainly been used to help demonize the man in question in the eyes of the public.
The modern plea bargaining system of falsely charging a defendant with 1st degree murder to get him to plead guilty to jay walking is both immoral and anathema to, and has seriously undermined, the Founders’ vision of constitutionally controlled rule of law. Prosecutors should be required to make ONLY the charge for which they reasonably believe they can get a conviction.
I believe, pursuant to the 2nd Amendment http://bit.ly/bO7LZx and Article 2, Section 13 of the Colorado Constitution http://1.usa.gov/1aJkn5, combined with themselves District of Columbia v. Heller - 07-290 (2008) http://bit.ly/PBKfYe and McDonald v. Chicago - 08-1521 (2010) http://bit.ly/PBKsdZ  (see also http://coloradogunlaws.com ), that it is manifestly clear that it would be perfectly legal for a law-abiding citizen with a clean record to ride a bicycle down the STREET (instead of on the sidewalk) openly carrying a gun. That is the message I want to send to local government and law enforcement officials. Now, if you should happen to think that is the same message Pete Hautzinger and the Sentinel were trying to send to the public with their handling of the story, I have some oceanfront property in Utah I’d like to sell you cheap. But then the difference between this two-part letter and the Sentinel’s handling of the story and Pete Hautzinger’s “message” is the difference between confusion and clarity.
Full disclosure: I have successfully completed the NRA-approved gun safety training necessary to get a concealed carry permit in Colorado. I recommend every law-abiding, freedom-loving citizen to do the same. Use your rights or lose them!

One last point. A couple of years ago a hunter openly carried a gun into a retail store, and may have been threatened by police with a “disorderly conduct” charge. Unless such a gun carrier poses or postures in any weird way/s that would reasonably cause fear in a reasonable person who respects controlling state and federal gun law for what it legally is at the time of the situation in question, it is entirely unreasonable, if not downright illegal, to threaten law-abiding gun-carrying citizen with clean records with “disorderly conduct”. That’s a crock of unconstitutional, albeit politically motivated, garbage which no citizenry which values individual freedom and rule of law should tolerate. The disorderly statutes were never intended to diminish or eliminate the constitutional right to bear arms. Law enforcement should not be allowed to EVER pretend otherwise.

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