3 youths charged in BB gun vandalism
Three people face a felony charge in connection with a July 1 shooting spree that damaged nearly two dozen vehicles in Havre, including a Montana Highway Patrol car and the city judge's vehicle.
Caleb Mason, 21, of Havre, and two juveniles, ages 16 and 17, have been charged with felony criminal mischief by common scheme. The three are accused of using a CO2-powered BB gun to shoot the windows out of houses and vehicles as they cruised Havre in a car.
Mason was arrested last Friday and is being held in the Hill County Detention Center on $25,000 bond. The two juveniles were issued summonses.
If convicted of the charge, the three could face up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Police have received damage estimates from 15 of the 23 shootings, totaling more than $12,000. The amount of damage sustained in the other eight shootings has not been accounted for, but police have said the total amount could exceed $20,000.
The damage to City Judge Joyce Perszyk's house and sport utility vehicle was more than $1,000, as was the damage to an MHP cruiser used by officer Scott Waddell.
Police investigated the case for nearly a month before getting a break, police Lt. George Tate said. An anonymous Crimestoppers tip implicated one of the juveniles, he said. Tate arranged a taped interview with the boy and his mother.
According to the charging document, the juvenile told Tate he was with Mason and the other boy the night of the shooting.
Mason used the boy's BB gun during the shootings, the juvenile said, adding that he did not participate. He told Tate that Mason did all of the shooting.
Tate interviewed the other juvenile, who said he was in the car during the shootings, but did not handle the BB gun, according to the charging document. He said Mason and the other boy passed the gun back and forth, the document said.
He said he asked to be let out of the car, but the other juvenile wouldn't let him. He said he was scared of going to jail and "would have jumped out of the car, but didn't want to while it was moving," the document said.
Next, Tate interviewed Mason. According to the charging document, Mason told Tate that all three boys had participated in the shootings, and "they didn't quit until they ran out of CO2."
Both juveniles implicated Mason in the shooting of the Highway Patrol cruiser, according to the charging document.
Havre resident Robert Floren praised Crimestoppers and Havre police for their work on the case. Floren's 2003 Dodge Ram sustained $500 in damage.
"I think it's important to point out that these guys are doing a good job out there," he said. "The police are doing an excellent job and I think Crimestoppers is a great organization."
Floren said that although Crimestoppers generates a lot of tips, the police still have to follow up with an investigation to bring charges.