A white campus security guard who accidentally shot himself with his own gun and then lied to police and said a fictitious black man shot him will not face immediate jail time for his crime—and if he completes the court’s requirements, he may not face jail time at all.
Brent P. Ahlers, 35, told a lie in September that endangered every black man in the city of St. Paul, Minn., and put the campus of St. Catherine University on lockdown for hours as 55 police officers, four K-9 units and Minnesota State Patrol aircraft wasted resources and taxpayer dollars looking for the fictitious gunman.
On Monday, Ramsey County (Minn.) District Judge Nicole Starr ordered Ahlers to pay $4,500 in restitution for the law enforcement expense incurred in looking for his made-up assailant, according to the Pioneer Press.
Starr also gave Ahlers the opportunity to avoid jail time if he meets requirements of the court that include attending six sessions of Ramsey County District Judge George Stephenson’s group for men whose lives have crossed with the criminal-justice system. Most of the men in the group are black, and Starr made it clear that this was intentional.
Once Ahlers has completed his six sessions, he will have to report back to Starr on what he has learned about how his actions have impacted the black community.
“I’ll expect you’ll have something to say that’s a little bit more than ‘I’m sorry,’” Starr said.
Starr told Ahlers that if he doesn’t meet the requirements of her sentencing, she will send him to jail for 60 days.
Ahlers told the court before his sentencing, “I am sorry for the event in general and the fear and pain I caused.”
On Sept. 12, Ahlers accidentally shot himself in the shoulder with his own firearm—a weapon he was not authorized to have on the campus of the Catholic university for women, where firearms are not permitted. He called 911 and told police that he had been shot by a black gunman with a short Afro and wearing a navy blue sweatshirt.
St. Paul police, suspicious of his story, did not immediately report the description of his alleged assailant.
The next day, Ahlers confessed that he had made up the story because he was afraid of losing his job. He was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor— falsely reporting a crime. He pleaded guilty in October.
Ahlers was subsequently fired by the university, and his attorney, Eric Rice, said Monday that he had to move out of state to escape the backlash.
Rice told the judge that his client hadn’t meant to have the weapon on campus that day, but he’d mistakenly left it in his backpack. He was walking in the woods when he accidentally dropped it, and when he picked it up and attempted to clean it off on his shirt, the gun went off.
Rice said that his client “did the right thing, the hard thing,” by confessing his crime, and asked the judge to take that into consideration when sentencing him.
Meanwhile, Tyrone Terrill—president of the African American Leadership Council—told the Pioneer Press that he believes the judge was too easy on Ahlers.
Terrill attends Stephenson’s group and plans to be there when Ahlers shows up for his first session so that he can ask him tough questions.
“It’s not going to change him. … But I think he will feel the wrath of our community,” Terrill said.
Good. I hope they scare the shit out of his ass.
Read more at the Pioneer Press.