If the words spoken by Allen County Judge Jeffrey Reed weren’t clear enough, the prison sentence handed to 17-year-old Duran Tyson Jr. on Monday came with an exclamation point.
“We, as a community, need to do something about youths getting their hands on firearms and using them against each other — and against police,” Reed said before a courtroom packed with members of Tyson’s family as well as members of the Allen County Sheriff’s Office.
And with that, Reed handed Tyson a prison sentence that could extend beyond 40 years, depending on his behavior while incarcerated.
Members of Tyson’s family shouted their displeasure when the sentence was read, apparently feeling the sentence was extensive and even race-based. Their outrage continued after court adjourned, engaging in a war of words with police and the family of the officer at the heart of the incident.
But let’s be clear. Justice was served. And the sentence had nothing to do with race. To claim otherwise is to assert the twisted logic that it’s somehow OK to try to gun down a police officer.
The horror of the incident is that it happened because Tyson and cohorts wanted some cigarettes and cash. In their minds that was reason enough to pull a gun on a store clerk. That’s what little value Tyson put on life.
When law officers caught up with Tyson in a residential area a few hours after the robbery, Deputy Barry Friemoth ordered Tyson to stop. Instead, Tyson turned toward the deputy and fired multiple rounds. At least two bullets struck an unmarked cruiser, and at least one round struck a home.
Friemoth did not return fire, given he was in a neighborhood and didn’t want to risk a stray shot hitting an innocent resident, but he did chase Tyson into his Reese Avenue home. At 4:44 a.m. — nearly seven hours after the May 30th armed robbery — Tyson exited the home escorted by his mother and was taken into custody without further incident.
Tyson’s sentence Monday included a minimum of 25 years in prison for attempted murder, aggravated robbery and one count of carrying a concealed weapon.
Tyson did apologize in court for “all the trouble I caused” and said 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.”
We can only hope those words were spoken with sincerity and not merely a sham to buy leniency from the court.
Friemoth also addressed the court prior to sentencing, saying 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.”
Teens. Guns. Shooting at law officers?
This was not just another day in Lima, another crime. Judge Reed was right in sending a strong message that this city won’t tolerate such violence.
The public and our law enforcement officers deserve no less.