Wednesday, September 03, 2008


A story like this disturbs me.

'''Police hit the jackpot. I stopped counting after 18 shotguns,' Prewitt said Tuesday morning from the driveway of her Iona Avenue home." Shotguns, last I checked, are perfectly legal. And there is no limit to them, either.

"Prewitt said she watched as officers also confiscated what she described as grenades from the home of Benjamin B. Terril, 50, a Buchtel High School science teacher." Grenades? I love the sensationalized reporting here. Somebody getting jumpy over shotguns thinks she sees grenades, and the reporter jumps all over it.

"Terril is in the Summit County Jail on charges of possessing explosive materials, carrying a concealed weapon, having weapons under disability and drug abuse." A science teacher is bound to have "explosive materials." Heck, every household probably has some chemicals that we could classify as explosive. And someone with a lot of guns is likely to have reloading components. I don't know the state laws there, but it sounds as though he was on his property, so the concealed weapon charge is ridiculous. Not that I think there should be any restrictions, but I don't think that a weapon on one's person is illegal on a person's own property. The "weapons under disability" charge is where they start to have something, though it's disgusting that it is possible. The problem, though, is that a teaching background check would've probably kept anyone legally ineligible for a gun from teaching. And the drug abuse is mentioned without any possession charge, which really makes you wonder.

"Police spokesman Lt. Rick Edwards said Akron police received an anonymous call around 7:45 p.m. Monday, reporting Terril and another man were arguing and pointing guns at each other. Police said both men appeared to be intoxicated." I always love "anonymous tips," since they can be used to justify just about anything. Later in the article, we're told the gun was found in his pocket, not his hand. And the other man isn't mentioned again. Makes a person wonder about some of the facts.

"Terril gave officers permission to search his home, where they said they found an 'arsenal of weapons' and an array of explosive material." "Arsenal," huh? And "array?" These are relative terms, and we're given no basis on which to judge them.

"A half-dozen empty beer cans, a plastic bag of fruit, two crumpled dollar bills and another 78 cents in change were strewn across the front porch of Terril's home Tuesday morning." Beer, fruit, and pocket change are hardly evidence of anything, and the fact that they were there Tuesday morning may only be a testament to the search. Cops tend to make a bit of a mess.

''I was surprised and shocked. You have to wonder what he was up to. It looks like he was getting ready for World War III,'' Again, we hear from the panicky neighbor. Hell, I probably have a neighbor or two who'd say the same about my "arsenal."

'''Ben was always a good guy who kept to himself,' said Swaidner. He said he had no idea that there were so many weapons in the house." A good man with guns is not problematic. Nor is he criminal.

"Akron schools Superintendent David James said Terril, a teacher in the district since 1996, has been placed on paid administrative leave while the case is under investigation." And the school is out a teacher.

"It then goes through their Office of Professional Conduct and they will determine whether that person will be able to retain their teaching license." And we can guess what they'll say. I hope they don't, but I'm guessing they'll strip him of his license.

"'My biggest concern is that that person is not around our kids,' James said." Yeah, he might teach them to be self-sufficient and free...we can't have that.

"In 1992, Terril was arrested in Stark County for carrying a concealed weapon — a felony — and driving while intoxicated, a first-degree misdemeanor, according to court records." And he ended up pleaing no contest in the DWI and not guilty on the weapon. Not a big issue, as far as I can tell. He also attended the court-mandated course. We're done, then.

We're then told that he said he'd never been convicted of anything more than a minor traffic violation, which a criminal record check backed up. And we're then supposed to believe he's a horrible person.

"According to the resume in Terril's personnel file, he served in the U.S. Army from 1975 to 1991 and achieved the rank of captain. He graduated from the University of Akron in 1996 with a bachelor of science degree in secondary education and was certified to teach science and biology." A former military man who owns guns. No surprise there. And he is a science teacher. Nothing big and scary about any of it.

Sure, there may be more to this than we're told, but it really sounds like he made a mistake inviting the cops in, and it sounds like there's a lot of hype here. I wonder which, if any, charges the DA will actually pursue.

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