Benson man sentenced for September weapon incident in Washington

Donelle Pardee Whiting

A case involving a Benson man and a loaded shotgun in the parking lot of Kep’s Place Sports Bar & Grill in early September finally reached a conclusion in Tazewell County Court Friday morning.

Jon D. Hood, 22, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful use of a firearm.

Judge Stephen A. Kouri sentenced Hood to 120 days in a work release program and two years of probation.

Hood originally faced a felony charge of unlawful use of a firearm after Washington Police arrested him in the parking lot of Kep’s Place, 313 Muller Road.

Police Chief Jim Kuchenbecker said at the time that he fully believed the arrest averted a tragedy.

At about 1 a.m. Sept. 8, police observed a white 2005 Chevrolet Silverado pickup traveling at a high rate of speed.

The driver was also driving erratically on Muller Road, struck a curb and went partially off the road, according to police.

When officers approached the vehicle, they observed a Norinco brand 7.62 x 39 mm assault rifle on the passenger seat of the truck.

Upon further inspection, officers found the rifle loaded with fully jacketed ammunition. There was also one round in the chamber and the safety was off.

According to witness statements to police at the time of the incident, Hood got into an argument with another patron who was talking to Hood’s girlfriend.

“(The suspect) left,” Kuchenbecker said, “and nobody knew where he went. He just left.”

Hood’s girlfriend then called him on his cell phone to tell him to come back.

Kuchenbecker said it is unknown if he intended to return to Kep’s Place on his own before his girlfriend called.

According to police, Hood kept his rifle unloaded and in its case behind the seat in his truck.

However, at some point the suspect stopped, removed the weapon from its case, loaded it and put a round in the chamber, Kuchenbecker said.

Hood was stopped by police about 35 minutes after initially leaving the bar.

When asked what he had planned to do with the rifle, Hood is reported to have said “I would have put a bullet in their head.”

“There is no doubt in my mind, based on evidence collected, and statements made by the suspect, that he fully intended to carry out his threat,” Kuchenbecker said.

He added, it is unclear if the suspect intended to go into the bar and start shooting or if he intended to wait in the parking lot for people leaving.

Hood’s blood alcohol level two hours after the stop was .176, more than twice the legal limit of .08.

Preliminary testing at the scene showed his BAC to be much higher.