Man pulls gun after verdict

HETTINGER -- Vicente Chacano was taken to the Adams County jail after allegedly pulling a gun and attempting to fire at a prosecuting attorney during his trial at the courthouse in Hettinger Friday.

Adams County Courthouse

HETTINGER -- Vicente Chacano was taken to the Adams County jail after allegedly pulling a gun and attempting to fire at a prosecuting attorney during his trial at the courthouse in Hettinger Friday.

He pulled a 9 mm handgun after the jury announced he was guilty of two sex-related charges, said Adams County Sheriff Gene Molbert.

"You could hear clicking," Molbert said. "I think the clicking was more of him trying to work the action to load it than pulling the trigger."

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Byers took Chacano to the ground and no shots were fired, Molbert said. Chacano had a cut on his hand after the incident, but there were no other injuries, he added.

"I tried to knock the gun out of his hand," Molbert said. "I spun around and started drawing. Byers hit him and I jumped on him and got the gun out of his hand."


Molbert is unsure whether Byers hit or tackled Chacano.

It's unclear if the gun's safety was on or why the gun didn't fire, he added.

"He had two hands on it and he was trying to put a round into the chamber," Molbert said, adding there wasn't a round in the chamber.

"He had two other full clips in his pockets," Molbert said.

Molbert said he knew Chacano owned a gun, but didn't know he had it on him during the trial. Chacano was not searched prior to entering the courtroom and though there is a metal detector at Adams County Courthouse, it wasn't used, Molbert said.

"It's never been out once," Molbert said of the metal detector. "If I have my way that metal detector will be put up and never taken down. It will be used for every court appearance. This is our second blow up after a trial that we've had here."

He said no weapons were present during the first incident, but death threats were made.

"No matter how small of a place you are, it can happen," Molbert said.


Authorities were searching for Chacano's brother and his victim's uncle as of Friday afternoon and Molbert said he would "be on guard."

Their names were not immediately available.

"We don't know what the reaction of the brother or the uncle is going to be," Molbert said. "I have no idea."

Jurors were just beginning to leave when Chacano pulled the gun.

"There was about 30 witnesses to this," Molbert said. "Everybody was ducking, trying to get behind something."

The courthouse was locked down and everybody was instructed to stay where they were.

Betty Jo Engraf, secretary at the Adams County state's attorney's office, said she and others locked themselves into their offices.

"I heard all the hollering, but I didn't know if maybe he got convicted until I saw the people coming down and they kind of had scared faces," Engraf said. "It's just freaky knowing that he has been put here walking around looking in."


Molbert used a wand metal detector on everyone in the courtroom, he said.

Chacano was handcuffed, the jurors left and officials finished the trial.

"He didn't put up a fight," Molbert said.

The trial concluded with Judge Zane Anderson ordering a presentence investigation, Molbert said.

Richard Edinger, Chacano's attorney, withdrew from the case "because morally, legally, I think he has to because he is a witness to it," Molbert said.

Chacano faced three felony charges of gross sexual imposition for alleged sexual contact with his then-stepdaughter who was 13 to 14 at the time. The allegations took place from September 2007 to June 2008.

Molbert said he believes Chacano was guilty of the GSI charges.

"If I wouldn't have thought he was guilty, I never would have stuck on the case like I did for two-and-a-half years," Molbert said.


Several area law enforcement agencies responded to the incident and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating, Molbert said.

He said Chacano has no criminal history in the United States prior to the GSI charges. Chacano is originally from Chile, requires an interpreter and has been residing southeast of Reeder.

Chacano's age was not immediately available, but Molbert said he is in his mid-40s.

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