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Shooting incident prompts resignation, new weapons policy

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By Gregory Orear

RED OAK — A shooting incident at the Red Oak airport has led to the resignation of one airport commissioner and the adoption of a new policy restricting firearms at the facility.

By a 4-0 vote, the board agreed to post signs outside the airport office and hangars prohibiting firearms, similar to signs outside the courthouse and other city facilities.

“As far as the airport … I know its been common practice throughout the years for pilots to use birdshot in their hangars to try and get rid of birds,” City Administrator Brad Wright said. “But in light of recent occurrences … I think it may be time to say that just doesn't make sense in this age and prohibit them.”

The “recent occurrence” Wright referenced involved former board member Don Cashatt and local pilots renting a hangar at the airport.

Wright said Cashatt had been pointing a .22-rifle loaded with birdshot in the direction of the pilots. In a meeting with Wright, Cashatt told him he was shooting pigeons.

“I never did anything wrong that hasn't been going on out there forever,” Cashatt said reiterating he was just shooting pigeons. “But I guess I stepped on a few toes and made a few people mad.”

Wright said after determining poor judgment was used, he decided after discussion with Commissionser members to ask for Cashatt’s resignation, which was given June 12.  

Mayor Bill Billings attended the meeting and when there was hesitation to second Commissioner's JoAnne Nathem’s motion to adopt the policy prohibiting firearms, he warned the board if they didn't take action the City Council would.

“We have an airport manager who is authorized that if it becomes a nuisance or problem, (he can) deal with (it) and not have multiple people with firearms in our hangars,” Billings said. “I think it just avoids any problems in the future.”

Wright said by posting signs, it won't make actually make possession of a firearm at the airport illegal, but will give Ernst, Wright and City Police the authority to request the individual leave the property.

“We are not saying we are adopting an ordinance that says he is in violation and therefore subject to getting a citation or getting a municipal infraction,” Wright said in response to a question about an individual transporting a rifle from a car to an airport.“We are just saying we don't want them and we have the right to ask you to leave.”

If an individual were to refuse to leave, Wright said police could then issue a citation for trespassing.

Wright also said this policy wouldn't restrict the city from using its Department of Natural Resources issued permit for shooting deer at the airport.

As of Monday afternoon, no one had applied for the vacant Airport Commission seat, with a June 20 deadline looming.