PARKERSBURG – US attorneys at law were in Parkersburg Monday to pay tribute to the work of local officials in preventing a potentially dangerous person from acting violently.
U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart for the Southern District of West Virginia was at the Wood County Courthouse Monday to meet Wood County Attorney Pat Lefebure and Deputy Agent for the Wood County Deputy and Parkersburg Narcotics and Violent Crimes Task Force (PNTF) , Cody McClung, to present the US Attorney & # 39; s Award for excellence in the pursuit of justice.
A major event has been held in Charleston over the past few years to honor the work of law enforcement officials from across the district, but the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic have limited their options.
"We know this is a real challenge, not only with COVID but because of the law enforcement narrative." Said Stuart. “It is one of the most demoralizing times in law enforcement history.
"I can tell you that there is nothing more important than law enforcement on the streets of West Virginia, the streets of Chicago, and all over this great country where law enforcement is vital."
Stuart was in Wood County to highlight a case "Would have been a big press conference in a terrible way" if it hadn't been the actions of the U.S. Attorney General, Parkersburg Police Department, Wood County Sheriff & # 39; s Department, and others.
Stuart highlighted the work of Lefebure and McClung in the case of Benjamin Lee Parsons of Mineral Wells.
In December 2015, Parsons wore one "Creepy Face Mask" to a service in Mineral Wells, said Stuart.
In January 2017, Parsons told several people that he was armed "Visions, seriously injuring police officers" He focused on soft targets and was involved in the terrorist community. He had watched violent terrorist videos.
"Our office was very concerned" Said Stuart.
At this point, the Parson site was raided by law enforcement and a number of firearms were confiscated. A short time later, Parsons was involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric clinic for a few months.
Upon getting out of the hospital, Stuart said his office was concerned about his past actions and was working to ensure he did not engage in any violent acts.
In October 2018, investigators learned that Parsons had acquired additional firearms, including a high capacity semi-automatic assault rifle, a large magazine and ammunition, and another weapon in a locked compartment after police issued a search warrant at Parsons campsite.
Stuart said they learned that Parsons could get a gun from someone he knew who went to Marietta, Ohio and bought the gun for him from a gun show.
"This is one of the concerns we always have" he said.
Parsons eventually pleaded guilty and served five years in federal prison. After his release from prison, Parsons will be released under federal supervision for three years during which he will receive mental treatment, Stuart said.
Stuart presented Lefebure and McClung each with plaques and a challenge coin for their work. He commended Lefebure for his work on the case and the work he continues to do.
Lefebure praised everyone involved in the case and the work that went into it.
"I stand here and receive this award, but it really is up to everyone around us." he said.
He commended the collaboration and assistance with the US Attorney General and other Wood County federal cases handled through Stuart's office.
McClung said it was "A group work of all involved law enforcement authorities" including Parkersburg Police, Wood County Sheriff's Department, PNTF, ATF, FBI, and others.
"It was a great group performance with a good ending" he said.
Stuart thanked the county officials for helping and funding the local authorities to do their job to keep the community safe.
"I have no doubt that there would have been a terrible incident here if we hadn't taken action in this case, if there hadn't been incredibly effective law enforcement to get someone off the streets of Parkersburg" he said. “Whether it was a shopping complex, a school, it had all the characteristics of all the tragedies we have seen in this country.
"This is a great example of how law enforcement officers get their job done, do their homework, focus on the target and make sure something like this doesn't happen in this community." Said Stuart.
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