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Man who carried training rifle near Martinsburg schools pleads guilty

William E. 'Billy' Alemar was sentenced to seven days already served in jail, fined a total of $15 for the two misdemeanor offenses and ordered to pay court costs

October 17, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • William Everett 'Billy' Alemar
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A man spotted running near two Martinsburg schools on the first day of classes in August while carrying a training rifle and dressed in camouflage pleaded no contest to public intoxication and disturbance of a school Wednesday in Berkeley County Magistrate Court.

William E. “Billy” Alemar, 23, was sentenced to seven days in jail, which he already served after being arrested on Aug. 20, fined a total of $15 for the two misdemeanor offenses and was ordered to pay court costs.

Alemar also is expected to complete his current course of treatment for post-traumatic stress as part of the plea agreement. Felony counts of committing a terroristic act and wearing body armor while committing a felony offense were dismissed.

“I want you to learn from this,” Magistrate Harry L. Snow told Alemar in a lunchtime hearing Wednesday that wasn’t scheduled until the day before.

Classes had not begun at Martinsburg South Middle and Martinsburg High schools when Alemar was spotted running along South Raleigh Street near Bulldog Boulevard, which divides the two school campuses, police and school officials have said. Alemar, who was in full military desert camouflage and ballistic vest, appeared to have an assault rifle across his chest, police have said.

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Witnesses included parents who were dropping their children off at school, according to Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely. Some were so alarmed by the situation that they pulled the students out of class, Games-Neely said.

“It was a very frightening situation at the time,” Games-Neely told the court in presenting the plea agreement that was reached with Alemar’s attorney, Kevin D. Mills.

Snow, who told Alemar that he was initially hesitant to accept the plea, was assured by Games-Neely in the hearing that the individuals who called police, as well as the arresting officers, were in favor of the agreement. The witness list included two juveniles and three other adults, according to court documents.

Martinsburg Police Chief Kevin Miller attended the hearing Wednesday with a number of department officers, but was not asked to speak in court.

After the hearing, Games-Neely commended the action taken by the arresting officers and said she was “very grateful” that the people who saw Alemar reacted the way they did and called the police.

Games-Neely said Alemar was within a “gnat’s eyelash” of being shot by the officers and would have been shot had he turned the wrong way when they approached him.

“You don’t know who’s a good guy or a bad guy,” Games-Neely said.

Police had said they received multiple calls about Alemar at 7:17 a.m. The firearm was later determined to be an AR-15 (M-4) training rifle that doesn’t shoot bullets, but police also determined Alemar was highly intoxicated. His blood-alcohol content was 0.213 percent, Games-Neely has said. The state legal limit for motorists is 0.08 percent.

Snow told Alemar Wednesday that he made a bad decision the morning in question and that his actions were that of a “dumb” individual.

“People are walking into schools and shooting kids,” Snow said of heightened concerns about school safety.

Snow also told the defendant that he was glad the resolution that was reached would allow the young man the chance to get his life back on track and hoped he stays in the military.

Mills said the plea agreement will allow Alemar to continue with his military career. At the time of his arrest, Alemar was a member of the Virginia National Guard based in Woodstock, Va.,

He deployed to Iraq last year and Mills said Alemar looks forward “to re-enlisting and redeploying and serving his country” in the future.

“Billy Alemar is a young man who has courageously served his country in combat and has done everything in his young life that a parent and a community could hope for in a young person,” Mills said before conceding his client made a “poor decision” to train in his gear on a school day.

In addition to the training rifle, Alemar was found in possession of two knives and several unloaded magazines when police detained him in the area of Silver Lane and South Raleigh Street. The ballistic vest contained ceramic panels to make it more bullet resistant, police had said.

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