BB Gun Stunt Lands Lawyers in Hot Water


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Jeff White
August 4, 2004, 03:10 PM
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/Columnists.nsf/Bill+McClellan/73BBB52E5C377AF886256EE6004A2D22?OpenDocument&Headline=BB+gun+stunt+is+Exhibit+A+in+case+against+2+lawyers+

BB gun stunt is Exhibit A in case against 2 lawyers
By Bill McClellan
Of the Post-Dispatch
08/04/2004

Bill McClellan

One of the major differences between men and women is that men reach emotional maturity at 15. That's it. Forever an adolescent. Oh sure, sometimes you'll see a man trying to behave like a grown-up, but it's like seeing a monkey wearing a suit. Something's not quite right.

Which brings us to Gary Burger and Mark Cantor.

They are the lawyers who allegedly engaged in a BB gun fight Friday in the West County office building in which they have their law practice. A BB gun fight. And not just in their office. At least one of them - and by some accounts, both of them - went up and down the halls, frightening the tar out of people.

Oh, gosh. Such fun.

This is, perhaps, a serious thing. That is, it could have been tragic. The folks who share the building with our two lawyers did the right thing and called the police. Imagine what could have happened had a couple of cops, adrenalin pumping, turned a corner and run smack into one of our lawyers waving a pistol. "Halt!" screams a cop, and our lawyer, caught off guard, turns toward the sound. Bang! Bang!

Or maybe another citizen, in the building on some errand of his own, might have been packing heat. After all, this is a conceal-carry state. Maybe somebody from Missour-ah didn't want to come into Missour-ee unarmed, and maybe this proponent of the Second Amendment would have run into one of our lawyers. Bang! Bang!

Happily, nothing of the sort happened. Not surprisingly, we have a woman to thank. When St. Louis County officers arrived at the scene, they found people hiding in cars, in closets and under desks. They heard stories of two men with handguns. But before a tragedy could occur, Melinda Hagaman, who works at a business in the building, told the cops not to worry. The gunmen were just a couple of lawyers down the hall. It was a game they sometimes played. In fact, Hagaman was caught in a crossfire last month and shot in the finger and shoulder. By the way, she is 25, which makes her, in a chronological sense, about 10 years younger than our lawyers, but on the maturity scale, she's 10 years their senior.

She went down the hall and found Burger. She told him the police wanted to talk to him. He was arrested and booked on suspicion of flourishing a dangerous and deadly weapon. A BB gun was seized. The police were unable to find the second gunman - our guys probably have neat hiding places all over the building! - but police said they expected to seek charges against Cantor, anyway.

Cantor graduated from law school at Loyola in New Orleans back in 1993 and has practiced here since. Burger, a Wash U. law grad, has a higher profile in the legal community. His mom is Joan Burger, a circuit court judge, and his wife is Patti Hageman, the city counselor. Knowing how wives are - they know they're married to little boys, but they resent it when we remind them of that in a public way - I called to give her a chance to vent in the newspaper. She chose not to, but a few minutes later, Burger called. He was in the hangdog mode, common for men who have been caught behaving badly.

"It was horseplay. It was immature," he said. "I've tried to apologize to everybody." He called back a moment later to expand his statement. "I'm an idiot," he said.

He is on a Missouri Bar Association disciplinary committee. Yes, if you think a lawyer has been behaving badly, Burger will be one of the crew assigned to check it out. He was appointed to the committee by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the prosecuting attorney is waiting for the police to finish their investigation. Flourishing is a Class D felony with a maximum sentence of four years in prison. However, the law says the weapon has to be "readily capable of lethal use." Considering that our guys have already shot an innocent spectator twice - and she's still alive - I suspect the gun seized Friday will not meet the statutory requirements. A better legal question is this: Is there any kind of a hearing in which adults can be certified to stand trial as juveniles?

E-mail: bmcclellan@post-dispatch.com
Phone: 314-340-8143

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Harry Tuttle
August 4, 2004, 03:23 PM
sounds like Airsoft
Hit in the finger from a BB gun and you are not likely to laugh it off.

Jeff White
August 4, 2004, 03:24 PM
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/News/Editorial+-+Commentary/E989B7442ACCF0C786256EE6003749FC?OpenDocument&Headline=LAW+ENFORCEMENT%3A+Grow+up,+Ralphie

LAW ENFORCEMENT: Grow up, Ralphie

08/04/2004

IT WOULD BE NICE if an Official Red Ryder Carbine-action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle had been involved in the toy gun shootout between two lawyers Friday afternoon at a West County office building.

Anyone who has seen the classic 1983 movie, "A Christmas Story," would love to think little Ralphie Parker and his nemesis, Scut Farkus, had grown up and become lawyers. And Ralphie would still have the BB rifle he lusted for as a kid, maybe even still have the pink bunny suit his aunt gave him for Christmas.

And Ralphie, in his bunny suit, would have been chasing Scut around that office building on Olive Boulevard, blasting away. And it all would have been innocent fun, a sequel: "Christmas Story II - Boys will be Boys."

Alas, we live in more dangerous times, and the thought of two grown men - lawyers, officers of the court - chasing each other through an office building with plastic pellet pistols, forcing other workers to dive under desks and hide in closets, is appallingly stupid.

The St. Louis County Police officers who responded to the incident had no way of knowing it was all in fun. Cops carry real guns, and people have been shot dead for carrying look-alike weapons or no weapons at all. In 2001, county police shot and killed Annette Green, 37, of Wellston, after mistaking a foot-long carriage bolt she was carrying for a handgun.

As the Post-Dispatch's Bill Bryan reported Tuesday, police Friday arrested one of the lawyers, Gary K. Burger Jr., 37, on charges of flourishing a dangerous and deadly weapon. The other lawyer, Mark Cantor, was gone by the time the police arrived on the scene. Police said charges against both men would be presented to prosecutors.

On Tuesday, an apologetic Mr. Burger said he and his law partner had been "goofing around" with the plastic weapons, which Mr. Burger said shoot orange-tipped plastic projectiles "that don't even sting." He said they had no idea that anyone else in the building had been scared or intimidated.

This will be an interesting challenge for County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. Mr. Burger is well-connected in judicial and Democratic political circles. His mother is St. Louis Court Judge Joan M. Burger, and his wife is City Counselor Patricia A. Hageman.

Flourishing is a felony if the weapon is "readily capable of lethal use" - which these pistols may not have been. Even a BB gun, as Ralphie heard time and again, could put out somebody's eye. This incident could have been much more serious, but not much stupider.

Warren
August 4, 2004, 03:26 PM
There were some college kids playing airsoft outside my place once, I didn't call the cops on them but I could imagine what would happen if the police did roll up to their little shoot out.

4v50 Gary
August 4, 2004, 03:30 PM
They should have either stayed in their locked office to play or rent a place to play commando. They were lucky the lady put the brakes on the cops before they got shot.

I wonder if the police handled it as an "active shooter" first responder call. That is, they formed a search team and cleared the building progressively or did they just storm in and trust their luck?

Anybody in the area who can find out?

flatrock
August 4, 2004, 04:12 PM
On Tuesday, an apologetic Mr. Burger said he and his law partner had been "goofing around" with the plastic weapons, which Mr. Burger said shoot orange-tipped plastic projectiles "that don't even sting." He said they had no idea that anyone else in the building had been scared or intimidated.

These aren't bb guns, or even airsoft guns. They're simply toys. There were no loud bangs or anything to make peole believe that they were shooting real weapons.

They apparently did this in the past as well, and other offices residents were aware of the behavior.

Apparently someone overreacted at the sight of something resembling a gun and called the police and reported men running around with guns rather than men running around acting like idiots with toy guns.

There actions were irresponsible, however charging them with something more than disturbing the peace doesn't seem appropriate.

It sounds like most people in the office building really didn't care since they had done this in the past without serious complaints. Someone overreacting at the sight of a toy gun is not a valid reason to charge someone with a felony.

I understand the officers being upset. However, the report of armed men running around was a false report, and the lawyers aren't responsible for the unreasonable reactions of others to what was in reality some harmless fun.

JohnBT
August 4, 2004, 04:21 PM
Their major mistake was not dressing up like cowboys and Native Americans. :)

John

Gordon Fink
August 4, 2004, 04:30 PM
“One of the major differences between men and women is that men reach emotional maturity at 15. That’s it. Forever an adolescent.”

It’s hard to take the rest of the article seriously after this little bit of nonsense.

~G. Fink

Jeff White
August 4, 2004, 04:51 PM
Gordon,
Bill Mclellen is a columnist not a reporter. A search of the Post Dispatch's website found this new article:

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/News/St.+Louis+City+%2F+County/D5345C6F4F34FACC86256EE5001A1673?OpenDocument&Headline=Workers+scurry+for+cover+in+BB+battle&tetl=1
Workers scurry for cover in BB battle
By Bill Bryan
Of the Post-Dispatch
08/02/2004

Marietta Young peered out the glass door of her office at an unnerving sight. Pacing in the hallway of the upscale office building in west St. Louis County, just a couple of feet away, was a man wearing a blue shirt and holding a pistol.

"I didn't know what to think, but it was scary," said Young, a receptionist for the Tom James Co., a clothier. "At one point he stopped and peeped at me."

Young hid under her desk and asked her boss to call the police.

Other people in the building had also spotted the gunman Friday afternoon and called for help as well. St. Louis County police rushed to the scene, ready for a violent confrontation.

Officers arrived to find six to eight women hiding in cars, in closets and under desks at the three-story brick building at 12101 Woodcrest Executive Drive, just off of Olive Boulevard, west of Interstate 270. Some told police they had seen two men with handguns.

As police searched, they were met by Melinda Hagaman, who works at a business in the building; she told them not to worry.

"I knew it had to be the lawyers from down the hall," she said in an interview Monday. "They had done this before."

Police said they discovered that two lawyers who work in the building apparently had engaged in a BB gun fight with each other. Police arrested one of them, Gary K. Burger, 37, and booked him on suspicion of flourishing a dangerous and deadly weapon, a felony. Police have not yet sought formal charges from the prosecutor's office.

Burger refused to talk to the officers, police said, but the BB pistol, which they said looks like a real gun, was seized.

Police had been unable to locate the other lawyer, and he has not been arrested. But a case against him will be presented to the prosecutor at the same time as the case against Burger, said a county police spokesman, Officer Mason Keller.

Neither lawyer was available for comment Monday.

Hagaman said she had sought out Burger later Friday and told him that police were looking for him. She said he left and then returned and talked with officers.

Burger specializes in personal injury, auto accidents, workers' compensation and medical malpractice cases.

Hagaman, 25, said she immediately knew what was going on Friday because she got caught in a crossfire between the BB-fighting lawyers about a month ago. "I was outside on a break and I got shot in the finger and shoulder," she said.

"Boys will be boys, but I was mad," she said. "I grabbed one of their guns and shot back at them."

Hagaman did not appear to still be angry when interviewed Monday, but she said she can understand why others panicked.

"I can see where somebody could get freaked out, seeing the gun," she said. "That's understandable."

Reporter Bill Bryan:
E-mail: bbryan@post-dispatch.com
Phone: 314-340-8950

TheEgg
August 4, 2004, 05:01 PM
Spank them and send to bed without their dinner!

Muzzleflash
August 4, 2004, 07:38 PM
In 2001, county police shot and killed Annette Green, 37, of Wellston, after mistaking a foot-long carriage bolt she was carrying for a handgun.

I'm for the simple policy of summarily executing officers who screw up like that.

El Rojo
August 4, 2004, 07:54 PM
Drop the charges, but the boys ought to keep their gun play in their office. I too suspected Airsoft right away and it is a little annoying that this is getting a little bit blown out of proportion.

FRIENDLY
August 4, 2004, 08:09 PM
They should have had their toys inserted either up or down and see how they like it.May take the smiles off their faces.

Zach S
August 4, 2004, 08:21 PM
They're probably the $20 to $30 airsoft spring guns, that are wildly innaccurate and have to be cocked every time theyre fired, since the woman shrugged off being shot twice like it was nothing. As for one of those injuring someone, they wont bust a light bulb unless its at point blank.

In the days of my mis-spent youth, I learned that getting shot with a .177 cal BB is not pleasant at all, and more recently I learned that gettng shot with a green gas airsoft pistol is only slightly less painful.

Anyway, the charges should be dropped, I think they've been scared into confining "BB gun cammando" in a locked office or not at all.

carpettbaggerr
August 4, 2004, 08:53 PM
I can understand people who can't tell a toy from a real gun, but charging them with flourishing a deadly or dangerous weapon? There's no way they can make that stick, why are they bothering?

Two guys with guns! Hide under your desk! :what: Please.

jefnvk
August 4, 2004, 09:42 PM
I have two issues with this article:

1. The tone is incredibly sexist, IMHO
2. I didn't know an airsoft gun was a dealy weapon.

That being said they probably shouldn't have been having a 'bb-gun' fight in a law office. But then, they probably shouldn't be facing possible felony convictions either.

Standing Wolf
August 4, 2004, 11:37 PM
One of the major differences between men and women is that men reach emotional maturity at 15.

Wow. What acute powers of intellection.

Harry Tuttle
August 5, 2004, 12:02 AM
Police arrested one of them, Gary K. Burger, 37, and booked him on suspicion of flourishing a dangerous and deadly weapon, a felony.

On Tuesday, an apologetic Mr. Burger said he and his law partner had been "goofing around" with the plastic weapons, which Mr. Burger said shoot orange-tipped plastic projectiles "that don't even sting."

what do ya think, a felony for battling with rubber darts or nerf foamies?

Average Guy
August 5, 2004, 12:47 AM
"Flourishing"? What kind of pansy legal term is flourishing? Flourishing is something you do with your wrist when you show off your new duvet cover to your girlfriends.

Now "brandishing"--that's the legal term here in the PRK, and I was falsely persecuted for that myself many years ago--that's a MANLY legal term. A charge you can be PROUD of. BRANDishing. Dang right!

Flourishing. Sheesh. :rolleyes:

Warren
August 5, 2004, 12:49 AM
Maybe he was limp-wristing it.

GunnySkox
August 5, 2004, 10:05 AM
It sort of irks me how people in the media never make the differentiation between BB, Pellet, and Airsoft guns (irksome in the same sense that it's annoying when mediapersons use Assault Rifle, Assault Weapon, Heavy Machinegun, and Saturday Night Special interchangeably).

I do love how the author of the first article subtly (note the sarcasm) intimates that no woman has ever done any stupid thing ever. The two lawyers were just having some irresponsible, stupid fun. They probably should have used those little brightly-colored water pistols, or maybe had their guns colored all blaze-orange if they were gonna just dash around the office like that, y'know?

~Slam_Fire
Behold, the power of Feminism... ((Sidenote: I've nothing against feminists, just feminazis))

standingbear
August 5, 2004, 10:10 AM
I have a 79 year old neighbor that saw me plinking in my backyard with my airsoft..I gave him my extra airsoft gun and he gets the biggest grin setting on his back porch popping off bbs at his metal garbage can.

the whole thing seems to have been blown WAY out of proportion here.true,the lawyer pals should keep their antics limited to their office area.I wonder what was said on the phone to the 911 operator?

TallPine
August 5, 2004, 10:19 AM
In 2001, county police shot and killed Annette Green, 37, of Wellston, after mistaking a foot-long carriage bolt she was carrying for a handgun.
We oughta have a law mandating that the ends of all bolts be painted orange to avoid such tragedies ..... :rolleyes:

But then there would be all those "pre-ban" bolts ... sigh.

:D

DRZinn
August 6, 2004, 12:14 PM
RE: no loud bangs

Alas, today's sheeple believe that pistols can be internally silenced, to the sound of a whisper....

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