Purchase photos

Alcohol violations take a back seat to other incidents

10/9/2012

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

It was a busy Oktoberfest weekend for Hays law enforcement, but it wasn't the run-of-the-mill alcohol-related cases that garnered most of the attention.

Instead, there were a string of standard criminal fare that attracted the time and attention of the Hays Police Department.

Some of it, according to Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler, might have been an outgrowth of alcohol-clouded judgment.

There were, of course, several incidents of standard Oktoberfest reports -- minors in possession of alcohol, cases of driving under the influence and incidents of disorderly conduct -- but they nearly took a back seat to more serious crimes.

There were only seven arrests made by Hays police for driving under the influence. Scheibler said he did not have statistics from either the Kansas Highway Patrol or the Alcohol Beverage Control agents in town.

Ellis County Sheriff Ed Harbin said his deputies were busy assisting the city in incidents they had reported.

The most significant incident during the weekend involved the report of a man with a gun, a report that came in at 6:42 p.m. Friday and resulted in the dedication of nearly all the officers on the street and forced the closure of a perimeter around a residence in the 500 block of West 16th.

It also resulted in several arrests, the details of which will be forwarded to Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees to determine what, if any, charges ultimately will be filed.

No one was injured in the incident, and the man reportedly with a gun never brandished it.

The incident apparently started when an individual at a different location in the city was looking to sell a handgun. The person who was staying at the residence on 16th Street looked at the gun but decided not to purchase the weapon. After he left, however, the gun's owner realized the weapon was missing when the prospective buyer left.

That's when a number of other people decided to go to the house where the prospective buyer was staying and retrieve the weapon. When they arrived, Scheibler said, several people scaled a fence in the back of the house and forced their way inside.

By the time police arrived, the area surrounding the house was cordoned off and 11 people were ushered out onto the lawn as authorities tried to sort out what actually had taken place.

Several of the stories didn't add up, Scheibler said, and the gun still is missing.

The owner of the residence wasn't home at the time of the incident but gave consent for a search, at which time police found "drug-related items" and a different gun in the house.

"I'm glad no one got hurt," Scheibler said of the circumstances surrounding the entire incident, and no shots ever were fired.

As many as three people face the prospect of criminal threat charges, while a fourth faces possible drug charges.

Scheibler said it was a "perfect example of weapons and alcohol not mixing. We were lucky no one got hurt."

He said the entire incident stemmed from "extremely poor judgment used by some, likely affected by alcohol."

"I can't stress enough that people can't take law enforcement into their own hands when they've been victimized. They need to call us."

Overall, Scheibler said alcohol-related arrested were down compared to previous years.

"The reality of it was the cold weather kept people off the streets," he said.

Several of the criminal cases reported during the weekend, however, "stemmed from an overindulgence of alcohol, resulting in people using poor judgment resulting in serious, serious crimes," he said. "Our focus is to keep the community safe. It is a celebration of the community and Fort Hays State University, and our goal is to keep everyone safe. And we were successful at that."