Friday, November 16, 2001

Father facing felony assault


Charge upgraded in Lebanon case involving gun, bus

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Authorities upgraded a charge Thursday against a Lebanon father accused of using a baseball bat and gun to threaten boys he believed were bullying his son.

        Steve Fletcher, 41, of the 800 block of Franklin Road, now faces a charge of felonious assault in the Nov. 6 incident at a school bus stop near his home.

        City Prosecutor James Whitaker said he decided to increase the charge to a felony after re-evaluating the case. A misdemeanor charge of aggravated menacing was dismissed Thursday.

        But Mr. Fletcher's attorney, Kevin Thornton, said the charge was misapplied.

        “They are using one Supreme Court case and it ignores the (state) law. It says if you have a gun and use it in a threatening manner, it's felonious assault,” he said.

        Following a brief court hearing Thursday to amend the charge to a felony, Mr. Fletcher remained in the Warren County Jail without bond until he receives a psychological evaluation.

        Judge Mark Bogen indicated that he will review the bond after he receives the psychological report. He also continued an order banning Mr. Fletcher from school property and any contact with the middle school students involved in case.

        Witnesses told police that Mr. Fletcher showed up at the Franklin Road stop for Bus 12 and got out of his truck, tossing a baseball bat to his son, police said.

        He then allegedly grabbed a handgun from his waistband and pointed it at an arriving Lebanon school bus loaded with children, then fled in his truck.

        Police said the altercation apparently stemmed from Mr. Fletcher's belief that Berry Middle School administrators mishandled complaints that his son was being harassed at the bus stop.

       



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