Two teenagers involved in a paintball shooting spree were confronted in court Tuesday by one of their victims: a 73-year-old Henderson man who relies on a pacemaker to keep his heart beating normally.
Fred Honore wore a black-and-white checkered flannel shirt to court because it is almost identical to the jacket he was wearing the night he was shot in the chest by what he described as an air pistol.
"I wore this shirt because I think this shirt looks familiar to you, right?" the great-grandfather said to 16-year-old Christian Melton.
Melton, the first to appear in Juvenile Court for sentencing in the case, nodded as he fought back tears.
Honore forgot his hearing aid Tuesday, so he wore a court headset to help him hear the proceedings. He addressed Melton and later, 17-year-old Aaron Briggs, before Judge William Voy imposed their sentences.
In early January, Melton and Briggs each admitted the allegations in two of the counts they faced: battery with substantial bodily harm, a felony; and battery, a misdemeanor.
On Tuesday, Voy rejected their attorneys’ pleas for probation and committed both young men to juvenile facilities. Melton will spend the next several months at the Spring Mountain Youth Camp on Mount Charleston, and Briggs will spend the next several months at the Caliente Youth Center.
ATTACK ON 73-YEAR-OLD
The attack on Honore was the first in a series of eight outlined in a Henderson police report. It occurred about 11 p.m. on Dec. 19, just after he and his longtime girlfriend had finished loading their van with water they had purchased in the area of Boulder Highway and Major Avenue.
Two later victims were shot in the eye with a paintball gun but are expected to recover their eyesight. The final shooting occurred on Dec. 28.
Honore said a car pulled up slowly the night he was shot. Then something — not a paintball but a plastic bullet or capsules — struck him in the chest.
"It kind of stung, and it really kind of shocked me," he said.
The car then passed by again, and "this is when the taunting began."
Honore remembered hearing laughter in the car and said, "I think that was worse than actually shooting me."
Yet Honore, recalling his own mischievous youth, told Melton he felt sorry for him. "I’m not holding any animosity toward you," the man said.
Honore even joked that if Melton reaches his goal of becoming an electrician, he might use his services someday.
"God bless you, young man," the victim told Melton.
Voy then said , "I don’t know if I could be as forgiving as this gentleman is here."
In response, Honore said, "I’m just very glad for him that I wasn’t an off-duty police officer."
Honore said the outcome could have been worse if the teenagers had shot at someone who was armed, or if they had damaged his pacemaker.
Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Adams recommended sending Melton to Spring Mountain Youth Camp. She also recommended suspending his driver’s license.
"I want to remind the court this is not one incident," Adams said. She said Melton made conscious decisions to participate and "drove every time."
Adams also noted that Melton was quoted in one report as saying, "I made a really bad decision by hanging out with the older kids."
He was referring to Briggs, who is 17, and Robert Lockwood, an adult suspect who recently turned 18.
"They’re not criminal masterminds who lured him to commit these crimes," Adams argued.
She said his statement insults the victims in the case and shows he has not taken responsibility for his actions.
Defense attorney Mark Anderson said his client already has been punished. He has spent 27 days in custody and no longer has the car he worked hard to purchase.
"He lost that car, and rightfully so," Anderson said.
‘BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE’
Melton stood near his lawyer and his parents as he spoke in court. His mother held his hand.
"I made the biggest mistake of my life," the teenager said. "I wish I could take it back, but I can’t."
He later said, "I’m truly and sincerely sorry for what I’ve done." He also brought an apology letter for Honore.
According to the Clark County website, the Spring Mountain Youth Camp houses male youths between the ages of 12 and 18, and the average length of stay is about six months.
Voy said Melton will be on probation and his license will be suspended until he turns 18 on March 17, 2013.
Briggs, also in custody, stood by his father during his sentencing . He apologized to the community and his victims.
"I know I changed their lives forever," the teenager said.
He also apologized to his father.
Adams said Briggs, who provided the paintball gun, has admitted the shootings "became a thrill-seeking opportunity."
Defense attorney Aaron Grigsby said his client "fully admits that these acts were stupid and senseless." The lawyer called the shooting spree "a horrible series of lapses in judgment."
"That’s not a lapse in judgment," Adams countered. "That’s a choice."
After addressing Briggs, Honore said, "He doesn’t seem to have the remorse in his face that the other boy did."
Voy said his experience in Juvenile Court has taught him that expressions do not mean anything, because children display their emotions in different ways.
In addition to sending Briggs to Caliente, the judge suspended his driver’s license for one year. Briggs turns 18 on March 8.
The Caliente Youth Center is run by the state’s Division of Child and Family Services. According to the division’s website, the center serves youths ages 12 to 18, and youths who are placed in centers stay an average of six to nine months.
The judge said he will hold a later hearing to determine the amount of restitution that Melton and Briggs must pay to the victims.
ADULT AWAITS HEARING
Lockwood, the adult suspect in the case, appeared before Henderson Justice of the Peace Stephen George on Jan. 12. George released him on his own recognizance with intensive supervision pending a preliminary hearing, which is scheduled for Feb. 13.
A Clark County School District spokesman said Lockwood is enrolled at Foothill High School in Henderson. He said records show that Briggs and Melton attended Foothill until October, when they were withdrawn.
Lockwood is charged with three counts of battery with a deadly weapon, a felony; two counts of battery with a deadly weapon resulting in substantial bodily harm, also a felony; and three counts of conspiracy to commit battery, a gross misdemeanor.
‘THEY LAUGHED AND SPED AWAY’
Andrew Janisky, 22, and Quintin Hodowanic, 21, were named as the victims in the two counts involving substantial bodily harm. Both suffered eye injuries.
Janisky was collecting shopping carts at the Walmart on Lake Mead Parkway near Boulder Highway on Dec. 26 when a passenger in a vehicle asked him how to get to U.S. Highway 95.
As Janisky began to give directions, another person in the vehicle shot him in the right eye with a paintball gun.
"They laughed and sped away," he told the Review-Journal during a Jan. 12 interview.
Janisky initially lost 75 percent of his vision in the wounded eye but said he had recovered most of his sight.
He also said he had nothing to say to the suspects and had no desire to attend their court proceedings.
"I just really want to put the whole thing behind me, personally," he said. "I mean, don’t get me wrong. I still want them to go to jail. I just don’t want to keep reliving the same moment over and over."
Attempts to reach Janisky for comment Tuesday on the juveniles’ sentencing hearings were unsuccessful.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at email@example.com or 702-384-8710.