Jury finds man not guilty of making terrorist threat against school crowd
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A jury found a Sissonville man not guilty of making terrorist threats for revealing homicidal and suicidal thoughts to a counselor, but Kanawha Prosecutor Mark Plants said he would prosecute again if a similar situation arose.
A Kanawha Circuit Court jury found Shawn Foglesong, 40, had committed no crime when he told a counselor at Highland Hospital he had thoughts of shooting people at a high school football game last fall in hopes of drawing police fire unto himself.
Foglesong was arrested and jailed shortly after he was released from the hospital in September. The hospital notified police of what he had told a counselor while undergoing treatment there.
He was later indicted by a Kanawha County grand jury on a charge of making terrorist threats. Meanwhile, his bond had been set at $125,000 in September, and he remained in jail through his trial.
Public defense attorney John Sullivan argued that when Foglesong confided in a therapist, he did not commit a crime. The jury agreed.
Plants said he respects the jury's decision but believes what Foglesong did is a crime.
"The fact that those words are uttered is a crime," Plants said. "The only other alternative is not to prosecute and that's just not acceptable. At the end of the day, we can never go wrong by presenting evidence to a jury and letting them decide."
Foglesong said he had homicidal and suicidal ideations and was afraid he would act on his thought of donning a mask and going to a Sissonville High School football game. He said he thought about shooting in the crowd, targeting some he believed were sexual predators or other "bad people" and drawing police fire to himself.
Extra security precautions were taken at a football game after police notified school officials. Sullivan said, however, that Foglesong already had been taken into custody at the time.
Plants called the situation a "Catch 22," saying he wants people with violent thoughts and ideations to see a counselor or therapist, but medical professionals are "mandatory reporters" required by law to alert police. He said once law enforcement and prosecutors are aware of any threat to public safety, they have to act.
"Could you imagine what would happen if we didn't do anything and something happened?" Plants said. "That (not-guilty verdict) doesn't mean we were wrong. The evidence was there. He made the statement.
"This was clearly one of those cases where a jury had to decide this person's fate."
He said if presented with the same situation again, he would "do the exact same thing. This doesn't change what he said."
Plants applauded the work of assistant prosecutors Michelle Drummond and Reagan Whitmyer and said they were among the best in his office.
When asked if he thought Foglesong would pose a threat to the public, Plants said he did not know what Foglesong or anyone else would do in the future.
"I pray to God this defendant doesn't go out and hurt someone," Plants said. "But I can sleep at night knowing I did everything I could and my office did everything it could."Other Cops and Courts Headlines