LIMA — A Lima man whose handgun accidentally discharged during a meeting of basketball referees at Bath High School late last year pleaded guilty Monday to a fifth-degree felony.
The felony charge — illegal conveyance or possession of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance in a school safety zone — against Garry L. Tabler Jr. will be dismissed in its entirety, however, upon Tabler’s successful completion of a 12-month diversion program.
Tabler, 49, formally agreed during his court appearance Monday to accept an offer from the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office whereby he would plead guilty to the felony charge in exchange for his participation in the county-operated diversion program.
Judge Jeffrey Reed told Tabler if he successfully completes the year-long program his case will be formally dismissed. At that time Tabler could petition the court to have all court records pertaining to the incident be sealed.
While defendants convicted of a felony charge in Ohio normally forfeit their right to own or possess firearms, Reed said Tabler’s completion of the diversion program would not carry that same lifetime restriction.
Under the terms for acceptance into the program, Tabler agreed to plead guilty to the initial charge, to pay a monthly program fee of $75 and to perform an unspecified amount of community service.
According to the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were dispatched to Bath High School at approximately 7 p.m. on the evening of Nov. 29 in response to a weapon being fired. Upon arrival, law enforcement officials learned that Tabler was attending a basketball referee’s meeting at the school and accidentally discharged the weapon, which was in his coat pocket. There were no injuries.
While authorities from the sheriff’s office did not believe there was any criminal intent in firing the weapon, Tabler was initially arrested for possession of a firearm in a school.
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.