Police ‘do not know’ if shooting darts violates city ordinance
What originally started as a press release announcing the reopening of Tecumseh Park (The Pit), after blowgun darts were found at the beach on June 25, has raised questions about the current state of the ongoing investigation into the incident.The release, dated July 1, announced The Pit had been reopened “Thanks to information provided to the City of Tecumseh, the area affected by the sharp objects has been narrowed down to a small area.”According to Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch on July 2, “a disinterested third party” narrowed down the search area.On July 3, Welch corresponded that he had “only spoken with the attorney that represents the group. Once the entire situation is resolved and those who are involved in this actually come forward and we work out whatever it is that they may do to be held accountable, we will share that information.”An unidentified Tecumseh Parks and Recreation employee went down to The Pit, where he or she met the attorney, David Stimpson, who highlighted the area where the darts were used. Tecumseh Police Chief Troy Stern said Stimpson, who would only identify his clients to Stern as five 16-year-old boys, contacted him on July 15. According to Stern, Stimpson said the boys had no malicious intent.In an email correspondence, Stern wrote that Stimpson “will not be supplying me with the names due to concerns over threats and things said via social media sites in regards to this matter.”When pressed, Stern was reluctant to identify the attorney in email correspondence writing, “I’m hesitant in supplying this information simply because I don’t want backlash to come to the firm representing these individuals.” He did identify Stimpson at an interview on Thursday, July 17.The boys, according to information provided to Stern from Stimpson, were down there as dusk approached shooting at a can and lost some of the darts in the darkness.Seventeen darts were found, according to Stern. A police report dated June 25 stated the 17 darts appear to be from a blowgun. The darts were about five-and-a-half inches and had a very sharp point, according to the police report. The dart tail appears to be made of plastic and had been altered for a smaller device, added the report. “They shouldn’t have been there at that time doing that,” said Stern. Attorney-client privilege, according to Stern, is allowing Stimpson to withhold the identities of the boys from the police department. “He’s protecting his clients,” said Stern. “My hands are really tied.”The Herald contacted Stimpson’s office on Thursday, July 17, with no response as of press time on Friday afternoon, July 18.If the identities of the boys become known, Stern said they would take statements from them about the incident and add them into the report that would then be filed with City Attorney Scott Baker, who would then decided if charges should be brought against them. “What would we gain from charging them?” said Stern.According to Welch, an estimated $6,600 was spent cleaning and adding sand to the beach area at The Pit.Information about whether the boys could be charged for violating city ordinance Sec. 50-341, which reads “No person shall shoot or discharge any firearm, air rifle, air pistol, spring gun, bow and arrow, crossbow, slingshot, or any other dangerous weapon or instrument in the city except as provided in this division,” is forthcoming. Stern said he would be willing to contact Baker for his interpretation of the ordinance, and would then inform The Herald.“Personally, absolutely it is a dangerous weapon,” said Stern. “It doesn’t mean the city attorney will [press charges].”Anyone with information regarding the identities of those involved is asked to contact the Tecumseh Police Dept. at 423.7574.