19-year-old pleads guilty to injuring woman with air gun
Stars and Stripes June 22, 2007
NAHA, Okinawa — The 19-year-old dependent of an Army civilian employee pleaded guilty Wednesday in Naha District Court to wounding an American woman with an air gun.
Robert W. Frank II, stepson of a 43-year-old Army Corps of Engineers employee on Camp Foster, admitted he fired shots from his stepfather’s air gun March 9 from the balcony of their off-base home in the Hamagawa district of Chatan.
One of the metallic pellets he fired embedded in the chest of a 50-year-old American woman who was walking on a street near his apartment, according to Prosecutor Daisuke Tabuchi.
Frank then fired a pellet at a neighbor’s car, causing about $350 in damage, Tabuchi said.
Frank, who was taken into Japanese police custody on the same day as the shootings, faces charges of gross negligence resulting in injuries and vandalism.
Because he is considered a minor under Japanese law, he was first sent to Naha Family Court, but the court sent him back to prosecutor’s office to be charged as an adult.
Tabuchi said Frank came to Okinawa in January to live with his mother and stepfather. He was home alone when he found the air rifle in a closet and pellets in a desk, Tabuchi said.
“Having too much time on his hands, he started firing the rifle, aiming at walls in the room and empty cans,” the prosecutor said.
After firing toward an emergency staircase, Frank saw a sheet of plastic hanging on a tree branch across the road, Tabuchi said.
“He looked around and saw no one, so fired the gun aiming at the tree,” Tabuchi said.
Tabuchi said that the victim, a flight attendant, told him that the pain was unbearable and that the wound caused scars requiring plastic surgery.
Frank’s defense attorney, Miyatomi Harushima, told the court that a settlement has been made with the owner of the damaged car.
Frank’s mother testified that her son suffered from depression and another mental disorder.
She said he was not on medication the day of the shooting and therefore could not process his thoughts, but she was adamant that he did not injure the woman on purpose.
“It was childish and wrong and I am terribly sorry for what happened,” she told the court.
Frank’s stepfather was to testify as a character witness in the next hearing, set for Friday.
Meanwhile, Okinawa prefectural police referred the stepfather to Naha Public Prosecutor’s Office on May 28 for violation of the Firearm Control Law.