LIMA — Tensions ran high inside an Allen County courtroom Monday morning after a teenager who fired a gun at a police officer was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years behind bars.
With an estimated 20 members of the Allen County Sheriff’s Office on hand in a show of solidarity for their uniformed brother, 17-year-old Duran Tyson Jr. was sentenced to a prison term that could extend beyond 40 years, depending on his behavior while incarcerated.
Members of Tyson’s family, apparently feeling the sentence was extensive and even race-based, shouted their displeasure when the sentence was read and continued after court was adjourned to engage in a war of words with police and the family of the officer at the heart of the incident.
Deputies on hand for the sentencing separated the parties and escorted individuals from the courtroom and outside the Allen County Justice Center.
The charges against Tyson stemmed from a late-night armed robbery at a Bluelick Road convenience store May 30 that resulted in the teenager firing his gun at Allen County Deputy Barry Friemoth in the 1100 block of Reese Avenue early the following morning, as police investigated the robbery.
Friemoth observed Tyson and ordered him to stop, at which time the teenage fired multiple rounds at the deputy. At least two bullets struck an unmarked cruiser, and at least one round struck a residence. Friemoth did not return fire but did chase Tyson into his Reese Avenue home, where Tyson was eventually taken into custody without incident.
In October, the Lima teen pleaded guilty to attempted murder, aggravated robbery — both first-degree felonies — and one count of carrying a concealed weapon. Two of the counts carried firearm specifications that carried a mandatory three-year prison term — served consecutively — before the remainder of Tyson’s sentence kicks in.
In exchange for those pleas, the state agreed to dismiss charges of felonious assault, improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation, discharging a weapon near a prohibited premise, receiving stolen property and tampering with evidence.
Friemoth addressed the court prior to sentencing on Monday. The deputy who was the target of the teen’s gunfire said he forgave Tyson but asked the court to impose the maximum possible sentence.
“I hope today’s sentencing has an impact not only on Duran Tyson but also on the youth in our community by sending the message that it is not okay to shoot at police officers,” Friemoth said. “This incident has had a detrimental impact on my family. It heightened my fears of going to work each day. And while my family did not pick this job for me, they have to live through it.”
Tyson apologized for “all the trouble I caused” and told the court he accepted responsibility for his actions.
“I am about to lose a portion of my life for something I will have on my conscience for the rest of my life,” the teenager said. “I should be in school right now, playing sports. But instead I’m about to spend time in prison. But it’s not too late for me to do some good things.”
Tyson said he will complete his GED while in prison and hopes to become a mentor for troubled youths “to get them back on track.”
Judge Jeffrey Reed had little comment when imposing sentence, other than to say, “We, as a community, need to do something about youths getting their hands on firearms and using them against each other — and against police.”