A preliminary hearing for a student facing charges for assault
with a dangerous weapon is scheduled for Wednesday.
According to Department of Public Safety reports, Engineering
freshman John Conover allegedly shot a BB gun pellet out of a West
Quad Residence Hall window at a passing driver on Sunday, March
The driver was not injured, but DPS charged Conover with assault
with a dangerous weapon and a minor in possession of alcohol
violation. He was also charged with assault and battery.
DPS Lt. Chris Spork noted that Conover’s weapons
violations could be twofold.
“First, he violated his lease by keeping a dangerous
weapon in his room, and second, he violated the weapons ordinance
for the University,” he said.
Conover’s attorney, John Shea, said that even if the
assault with a dangerous weapon charge is dismissed, Conover could
still be charged with assault and battery. This is a misdemeanor
that can carry up to four years in prison.
“It is unlikely that the penalty would be that severe if
my client was found guilty, because he has not faced other charges
before,” Shea said. He said his client has continued
“Any disciplinary action taken by the University would be
between him and the University,” Shea added.
DPS Lt. Crystal James said Conover was arraigned March 29 and
pled not guilty. An arraignment, the initial step in a criminal
case, is a first appearance in court for an alleged offender.
Shea said the preliminary hearing on Wednesday is likely to be
adjourned because he has not received any reports from DPS.
He said that his client was mischarged with the allegations of
assault with a dangerous weapon and that the gun that Conover used
was a toy pistol. “It was not a BB gun because a BB gun uses
metal pellets, whereas my client’s gun contained plastic
pellets,” Shea said. But DPS has continued to call the weapon
in question a BB gun.
Spork said, BB guns look very similar to real guns. “These
play-guns look very real. If you were standing 20 feet away, even
just six feet away, you wouldn’t be able to tell the
difference,” Spork said.
He added that both Washtenaw County and the state include BB
guns in the category of dangerous firearms or weapons.