Man sentenced to three years in bar fight, gunshot case

Southwest District Court Judge William Herauf sentenced a man to three years in prison, with seven more suspended, for firing a gunshot during a New Year's Eve brawl outside a Gladstone bar.

Robert York
Robert York

Southwest District Court Judge William Herauf sentenced a man to three years in prison, with seven more suspended, for firing a gunshot during a New Year’s Eve brawl outside a Gladstone bar.

Herauf’s concern was with defendant Robert York’s record, and how he is a “different Bob York” when he drinks or uses controlled substances. He wanted to give York, of Hedrick, Iowa, enough time in prison to fix his substance abuse problems.

According to the criminal complaint, late last Dec. 31, York pointed a sawed-off shotgun at the face of Justin Willis after a drunken scuffle outside the Enchanted Hideaway Bar in Gladstone. York was working in construction in the area at the time.

State’s attorney Tom Henning had recommended a sentence of five years, with an additional five years suspended.

“It appears to me that this was a seriously dangerous situation,” he said.


Even in the case’s final hour, public defender Kevin McCabe took issue with the official version of events - he said York fired a gunshot into the air to end the fight, not with intentions to harm anyone.

But Herauf said it was too late in the case to debate the facts - York had already entered a plea deal.

McCabe had recommended York go to prison for two years, with three more suspended.

“He pointed the gun in the air and fired it,” McCabe said. “… I don’t think this is anything more than a bar fight.”

Herauf found the crime more severe, and said it didn’t matter whether the shot was fired toward someone.

“Mr. McCabe,” he said, “you have a shotgun involved in a bar fight - that’s a concern.”

York was originally charged with attempted murder. In testimony Monday, he said he didn’t fire the gun at anyone in particular.

York has a criminal history of assaults and McCabe walked through some of them to give more context. In one, York was charged with assault after his dogs attacked someone. In another, he was charged after hitting a vehicle with a crowbar.


The defense also shared three letters from York’s family. Before deciding a sentence, Herauf took a 10-minute recess to read them.

“It’s obvious that you’ve got some high impact on your family,” Herauf said, adding his concern was with the possibility of more booze-fueled crime.

The sons, Rusty and Ryan Shields, were also originally charged with attempted murder but were freed on probation after signing plea agreements for charges of misdemeanor assault.

The state alleged one or both of the brothers dragged victim Willis out of the bar before the shot was fired.

York said after prison, he wants to go back to Iowa where his family is so he has support. He admitted he had a drinking problem and said treatment would help.

When offered the chance, York told the court he was sorry for the incident, and he wishes he “could just take it back.”

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