LIMA — A Lima man who as a teenager was charged with inducing panic and making a terrorist threat for his alleged vow to “shoot it up” at Elida schools left the Allen County jail for the first time in more than a year Tuesday afternoon.
Tristan Ascura, 20, was released on his own recognizance after accepting a deal from prosecutors that called for him to plead guilty to a single Bill of Information count of making false alarms, a felony of the fourth-degree.
Ascura will be sentenced Sept. 12 and faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison. He has already spent more than 12 months behind bars and could be freed by Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Terri Kohlrieser with time served in addition to some combination of community control sanctions.
As part of the condition of his bond, Ascura was ordered not to be on or around property owned by the Elida school district.
Ascura was arrested June 7 after four Elida High School students reported alleged threats he made about how he would shoot up the school when classes resumed in the fall. The Allen County Sheriff’s Office responded to the reports and took Ascura into custody at his uncle’s home in Lima, where deputies discovered an AR-15 rifle and 500 rounds of 5.56 caliber ammunition.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Defense Attorney Patrick Farrell argued that Ascura was playing a popular video game when the controversy first erupted. Featured within that video game world is a vacant school building that is a target for destruction, according to Farrell. Ascura was making reference to “shooting up” the school in the video when his remarks were made, the attorney insisted.
“It was all just a misunderstanding. Mr. Ascura had no intention of causing any harm to anyone,” Farrell said.
Ascura was indicted by an Allen County grand jury in July of last year on charges of inducing panic, a second-degree felony, and making a terrorist threat, a felony of the third degree. Both counts included specifications that a firearm was used in the commission of the crimes. The specifications carried a mandatory three-year prison sentences upon conviction.
Those charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
William Kluge, who also represented Ascura, previously had filed a motion to suppress the seizure of the firearm and ammunition because Ascura stayed at a home owned by an uncle, Mandy Beltram, when sheriff’s deputies took him into custody. Beltram only speaks Tagalog, a language specific to the Philippines, where he is from, and Kluge said it isn’t clear if deputies were given permission to enter the residence at the time the firearm and ammunition were discovered.
Kluge requested a court-provided translator fluent in Tagalog so Beltram could testify and clear up the question of consent.
As part of the deal with prosecutors, Ascura agreed to forfeit the rifle in question.