MADISON — A Norfolk man who threatened to shoot his neighbors over parking last winter was ordered in district court Friday to turn in his automatic weapons to be destroyed as part of a probation sentence for two counts of third-degree assault.
Caleb C. Henry, 28, had initially been charged with terroristic threats and use of a weapon to commit a felony for the December 2018 incident.
According to court records, Norfolk police officers were dispatched to the 200 block of South 16th Street regarding a man threatening subjects about their parked cars.
When the subjects refused to move their cars, Henry went into his home and reappeared with a rifle, demanding again the vehicles be moved.
Officers arriving on scene found Henry in his home, though he answered the door with a rifle in his hands. He was asked to hand over the rifle — which had a bullet in the chamber — and he complied.
In court Friday, Henry told Judge James Kube that when law enforcement arrived at his home, he initially answered the door with a gun because he assumed it was going to be his neighbors. When he saw who was at the door, he complied completely and was “calm, cool, collected and didn’t wish to aggravate the situation.”
Kube said the victims involved in the incident reported that Henry had threatened to shoot them in the head. He asked Henry if this was true.
“I did (say that), your honor, and I deeply regret it,” Henry said.
He told the judge that there was more than just a singular parking episode that had lead to his frustration, including beer bottles in his lawn and loud partying late into the night.
Henry said the rifle he had threatened his neighbors with was an AR-15, while the gun he answered the door when officers arrived was a carbine.
“Why did you have two automatic weapons in your possession?” Kube asked Henry.
Henry said the AR-15 was purchased after he got out of the National Guard as a memento. The carbine used to belong to his grandfather and was from World War II.
Deputy Madison County Attorney Matthew Kiernan said the incident was a situation that got way out of control.
“I think we’re all extremely fortunate that there were not injuries or fatalities from this,” Kiernan said.
He said that on the day in question, the people who had parked their vehicle had run into their home to grab something and were were leaving again.
“Unfortunately, they were confronted. The defendant threatened to grab his AR-15, then he went in and got that rifle. He racked a round in the rifle in front of the victims, which he actually admitted to law enforcement,” Kiernan said.
He said one of the victims, despite his extreme fear, started recording the incident on his phone, providing video proof of what happened.
“(Henry) said, ‘I’ll ask you one more time to move your vehicle off of the street, or I’ll put an (expletive) round into your (expletive) skull’ while he was racking a round. ... This is especially concerning seeing what’s happening in society today with all of the shootings,” Kiernan said.
He said Henry had received an extremely generous plea deal, but he disagreed strongly with a recommendation from the probation office for a sentence of probation.
“This was an extremely dangerous situation the defendant caused and made very serious threats to the victims,” Kiernan said.
RON TEMPLE, Henry’s attorney, said his client had shown poor judgment and came to the court “with his hat in his hand and remorseful.”
Henry had sought out counseling and has been doing very well, Temple said.
“This case arose out of a long history of aggravation and, whether it’s warranted or not, I don't know. ... Mr. Henry could benefit from probation, and he is remorseful. I don’t think that the court is going to depreciate the seriousness of this offense if they put him on probation,” Temple said.
He said Henry knows his actions weren’t the appropriate way to deal this such a situation, but Temple didn’t believe incarceration was necessary.
When given the opportunity to address the court, Henry said he was “deeply regretful for his actions” and asked for leniency.
Judge Kube told Henry that he is the type of person who scares the public.
“You seem to be a pretty nice guy, you have a house in a neighborhood with neighbors you don’t get along with, and you also have automatic weapons in your possession and you have an anger issue. Those things are a bad combination,” Kube said.
He said he agreed with Kiernan that it was fortunate to be in court on two misdemeanor charges and nothing more serious, though the crimes were serious enough for incarceration.
“When you threaten someone like that with a weapon you have like that in today’s society, it’s a bad situation.
“But I put you in jail for a while, and I really don’t think it gets to the heart of what’s at issue with you. ... Not only should you regret what happened, but I hope that you have some fear, that you’re scared now, so that there’s some urgency that this will never happen again,” Kube said.
Kube then sentenced Henry to 18 months of probation and 90 days in jail (with credit for two days), 16 which were to be served over the next eight weekends and the remainder to be waivable.
Henry was also ordered to continue counseling until his treatment provider deemed it no longer necessary.
He was ordered not to have any guns or ammunition in his possession. Kube ordered Henry to turn over any guns in his possession to law enforcement to be destroyed.
“I don’t want you to give them to any relative or friend so you can get them later. I understand one of those automatic weapons belonged to your grandfather, and I’m sorry about that. ... But an automatic weapon that is kept in your home with a bullet in the chamber is not an appropriate memento,” Kube said.
Kube also sentenced others on the following charges:
Possession of burglar’s tools
Steve V. Simonsen, 47, Norfolk, possession of burglar’s tools, false reporting, 15 months of probation, 60 days in jail with credit for 20 days served to be served prior to the end of probation unless waived, costs.
Delivery of methamphetamine
Jennifer M. Schmidt, 41, Columbus, delivery of methamphetamine, attempted delivery of methamphetamine, 4-6 years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections with credit for 18 days served, costs.
Possession of methamphetamine
Tia J. Svoboda, 39, Grand Island, 18 months of SSAS probation, 90 days in jail with credit for 104 days served, costs.
Justin L. DeWitt, 34, 410 Omaha Ave., attempted possession of methamphetamine, false reporting, carrying a concealed weapon, 12 months of probation, 60 days in jail with credit for five days served to be served prior to the end of probation unless waived, costs.
Kaitlin C. Chmura, 19, Wayne, theft by deception, 12 months of probation, 30 days in jail to be served prior to the end of probation unless waived, $2,851.14 in restitution, costs.
Linda J. Serr, 30, Hastings, probation violation on prior charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of hydrocodone, probation continued with 90 days added.
Mackenzie J. Baumann, 30, Pierce, probation violation on prior charge of driving under the influence — third offense, 34 days in jail with credit for one day served, costs.