Man accused of pointing gun at helicopter

May 17, 2012 at 5:15 PM
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FORT WORTH, Texas, May 17 (UPI) -- A grand jury in Texas will decide whether a man accused of pointing a gun at a helicopter and forcing it to land should face criminal charges, officials said.

Helicopter instructor Dale Williamson said he and a Federal Aviation Administration inspector he was training had been preparing to land in October on what they thought was part of a National Guard training area near Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Wednesday.

Williamson said a man later identified as Holland Walsh stepped out of woods with a pistol in his hand, pointed it into the helicopter's rotor system and demanded he and the trainee land.

Williamson, owner of Longhorn Helicopters, said they landed the Bell 206B III helicopter.

"We complied for fear this individual was going to shoot us," he wrote in a statement to authorities.

Williamson said the man yelled at him and his trainee that they were on his ranch land, not the National Guard training area, and said he was calling law enforcement, though there's no indication he did.

Williamson and the trainee told federal authorities of the incident and filed a report with the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department.

Tim Evans, Walsh's attorney, said Walsh "believed that, under the circumstances, he was acting lawfully on his own property. We are optimistic that the investigation will bear this out."

The Star-Telegram said the sheriff's department had obtained a warrant for a "terroristic threat" against Walsh but later recalled it.

Melody McDonald, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said the case will be presented to a Tarrant County grand jury.

"Our office has reviewed the material put together by the Sheriff's Department and because there are conflicting stories about what happened and several possible charges [Walsh] could face, the case will be submitted directly to a grand jury," she said.

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