“Yes, I am bitter. Yes, I make statements I should not be making to certain people,” said Gary Young, explaining some of his words and actions which have been used against him. And they led to what he believes is an unjustified action — the revocation of his permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Testifying on his own behalf in a hearing before visiting Senior Judge Fred Anthony in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas, Young said, “I can get my emotions very quick to the boiling point,” but he also explained why he would never “dehumanize” any person to the point where he would kill them.
Young was in court Thursday to appeal action by Crawford County Sheriff Nick Hoke, who revoked his permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Though Young turned over his permit peacefully earlier this year, he claimed he had heard no reason for the license recall, and he took the case to court to learn why the action was taken.
Those reasons became part of the public record, as several witnesses took the stand. After more than three hours of testimony from both sides, the hearing was recessed until 1:45 p.m. today.
Testimony on Thursday centered around incidents in recent years which began with child custody issues involving Young’s grandson. Tensions for Young have escalated since Oct. 31, 2006, and have continued because he said he hasn’t been able to get the legal assistance he wants to help resolve his issues.
Witnesses who testified on behalf of Hoke all said they relayed information to the sheriff before he revoked Young’s permit. That is crucial to the case, as Young claims Hoke revoked the permit without doing a full investigation.
Detective Sgt. Eric Young of the Meadville Police Depart-ment — who isn’t related to Gary Young — said he was friends with Gary and his wife, Barbara.
The detective, who characterized the Youngs as “good people,” said he received a phone call Oct. 31, 2006, from Barbara Young, who was hysterical and crying. She told him Gary “was out of control” and she was concerned that he may be driving to Meadville to “do something” to the mother of his grandson and her brother. The mother worked at Meadville Medical Center.
After talking with the assistant chief about the call, Young went to the hospital, but Gary didn’t show up. Eric Young then advised the security officer of the situation and left. Later that night there was a call for “a subject at the hospital with a gun.” When Eric Young arrived at MMC, Meadville Police Officer Tom Benge was with Gary Young. As Eric Young approached Gary to talk with him, Gary “was very upset and distraught,” the officer testified. He said Gary was upset that he was being treated to “feel like a criminal.” Attempts by Detective Sgt. Young to talk to Gary brought “no success. He was that agitated and would no listen to reason,” said the officer.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Thomas Lyons, Detective Sgt. Young agreed that there was no gun at the hospital that night and that the man had gone to the hospital to visit his son, who was a patient. Gary had a gun when he left his home, but had locked it in the trunk of his car before entering the hospital. The detective had no record of who from the hospital had made the call to police.
Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz also testified. He said he had numerous conversations with Young dating to 2004 or 2005 when he contacted him about Children and Youth Services and the mother of the grandson. Given a copy of the 2006 incident report from Meadville Medical Center by a hospital board member, Schultz said after reviewing it and talking with police that there was no reason to file any charges against Young.
Schultz testified about more visits and when asked if he had concerns about Young’s mental stability, he said, “yes,” relating that Young “had a fixation on the custody of the child.”
In January of this year, when Schultz refused another request for a criminal investigation, a request that Young was seeking, Young got very loud and told him that “40 years ago in Vietnam I killed a lot of people who did not do anything to me and my family. What should I do to people who are harming my family?” Schultz said Young asked him.
Schultz said he interpreted that as a threat, even though it was not a terroristic threat. “I was uncomfortable about it,” he testified. Young told him “bad things are going to happen to people,” and Schultz said he took it to “mean the very worst.”
Hoke testified that Young came to his office in January and asked the new sheriff for help, mentioning that he had been in contact with Schultz. He made similar remarks about killing Vietnamese people. “I told him that is something he should not be saying,” Hoke told the court.
Several days later, Hoke said he received a telephone call from Pat Bywater, editor of The Meadville Tribune, who also voiced concern about Young’s mental stability. Hoke said he had previously spoken with Detective Sgt. Young, Officer Benge, and DA Schultz, and after Bywater’s phone call, he decided to contact the sheriff office’s attorney. Soon after that discussion, he had the revocation letter drafted.
Bywater told of numerous conversations with Young over several years, including when Young wanted a news article clarified. The brief news story referred to an unnamed “intruder” at the hospital Oct. 31, 2006. Young wanted the clarification to say the unnamed suspect was not an intruder.
Young had claimed the article tarnished his reputation, but since Young’s name was not mentioned, no clarification was made. In January of this year during a two-hour phone conversation with Young, Bywater said Young “got choked up and said ‘I think I might lose it.’ ” His voice was wavering and cracking, said Bywater.
Asked by Hoke’s attorney Keith Button if that concerned him, Bywater said, “Yes, very much so.” He continued he was concerned because he knew how stressed Gary was because of all the issues he faced. During all the previous phone calls with Young, Bywater said Young had never said that before.
In the context of the conversation, Bywater said he was “very concerned about Gary. I did not want anything to happen to him,” adding he was concerned about Gary’s family and the people in the community.
“I felt he might lose it and act out in some fashion,” said Bywater. He added that Young had told him previously of being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Taking the stand in his own defense, Young told of his life dating back to 1967 when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, telling of the various battles he had been in and the impact of those on his life, including being wounded. He said he had several surgeries later in life to remove shrapnel.
“I don’t want to be a statistic of Vietnam. I’m not going to be a disabled vet,” he said of his choice to decline disability payments, reiterating that statement when he nearly died from one surgery.
He denied telling Schultz about killing people in Vietnam, but said in Vietnam soldiers were “dehumanized” so they could kill people. “Humans don’t kill other humans. They must be dehumanized.”
He said he would “never do that,” speaking about being dehumanized to kill other people now.
“I wear my emotions on my sleeve,” he said, noting he “slammed the door” the day he left his house to go to the hospital. Instead of going to the hospital immediately, he had stopped at a garage and “sat and vented” to a friend. He returned home about an hour later and his wife cried, telling him she had called Eric Young.
He said at the hospital that night he felt “ambushed” and thought he was getting ambushed not by the “bad guys,” but by the “good people.”
Young said he didn’t recall telling Bywater he might be losing it, saying that was “not a term I use.” However, he said, “Mr. Bywater was concerned as a human being to me and my family,” noting Bywater was aware of all the past problems he has experienced.
Young will take the stand today to complete his testimony and be cross-examined before the judge makes a ruling on whether Hoke erred when revoking the gun permit.
Jane Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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