Justin Belsky, 21, charged with organizing a massive BB gun shooting spree in August, will face justice in district court.Belsky is thought to have been the leader of the shooting spree on Aug. 6, when windows on more than 200 vehicles and buildings were shot and broken with BB guns. Several windows of a car were also bashed with a blunt object and both rear tires were slashed in the early morning hours.
Police eventually found Belsky driving a suspicious van with three juvenile passengers, one of them a girl. Officers spoke with Belsky and passengers, who said they had been driving around shooting windows, according to prosecutors.
Two of the three juveniles in the van -- a girl and a boy who were younger than age 15 -- were not directly involved in the shootings, police said. They were cited for curfew violations and released.
Damage reports rolled into the police department for several days. On Aug. 21, after hundreds of calls, Belsky was charged with 199 counts of misdemeanor criminal mischief, plus aiding and abetting criminal mischief and felony criminal mischief.
By now, the charges against Belsky have been lowered and combined. As of Friday, he faces three counts of felony criminal mischief plus one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
(Casey Mitchell, 17, was at one time cited for 199 counts of misdemeanor criminal mischief and two counts of felony criminal mischief. Mitchell charges were later amended to 10 counts of criminal mischief. He is in jail on a bond revocation.)
In court Friday, nine North Platte police officers were available to take the witness stand during a preliminary hearing. Deputy Lincoln County Attorney Jennifer Wellan called on four of them.
Investigator Roger Freeze and officers Jay Meduna, Kendall Allison and Rodney Brown all testified that that each investigated some of the reports of damage. From that information, as well as interviews with Belsky and his passengers, police believe that Belsky’s group drove all over town while Belsky and the 17-year-old had took shots at vehicles and buildings with rifle style BB guns.
Police said they found two rifle-style BB guns, plus a pistol-style BB gun, in the van.
One of the juveniles told officers that the BB gun used for the shootings had been reloaded with more than 300 rounds during the spree.
Investigator Freeze said the juveniles told him that Belsky called them and told them he wanted the car at the Platte River Mall “messed up, because the owner was messing around with his girlfriend.”
Police said two of the minors in the van and an as-yet-unknown Hispanic man evidently bashed that car. That car-bashing evidently was the start of the window-breaking spree. The shooting spree began near the Key Estates Trailer Park on the east edge of town and continued west, before they turned north along Willow St. and into the area between Sixth and 17th streets.
Defense attorney Stephen Potter tried to pokes holes in the prosecution’s case. Potter said the values of estimated damages are inaccurate, because they do not differentiate between new and used repair parts or windows.
Potter also said noted Belsky is only charged with aiding and abetting, not with the shootings.
But Wellan countered that anyone charged with aiding and abetting can be considered a principle perpetrator in a crime if the facts indicate, so the charges against Belsky could intensify.
Lincoln County Judge Kent Turnbull ruled that there was sufficient evidence to bind the case over to district court.
According to Wellan, damage reports are still trickling in. The total is above $62,000.