Judge: Chesterton man too much of a danger to regain his guns

2012-04-26T20:15:00Z 2012-04-26T23:55:17Z Judge: Chesterton man too much of a danger to regain his gunsBy Bob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Chesterton resident Steven Hughes is going to have to wait at least another 180 days before taking another shot at recovering his firearms from the town's Police Department.

Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa denied Hughes' request to have the firearms returned.

Alexa said while Hughes is no longer a danger to himself or his family, he remains "a clear and present danger to the community as a whole" and to members of the Chesterton Police Department.

Alexa said in his ruling Hughes was caught by a courtroom security camera displaying his middle finger to two Chesterton police officers as he left a hearing on his request earlier this month.

Neither Hughes nor his attorney Jacob Blackstone could be reached Thursday afternoon for comment.

Alexa ordered the Chesterton Police Department to hold on to the firearms, which were taken in a standoff two years ago, until the court either releases them to Hughes or otherwise disposes of them.

Hughes is eligible to again petition for the return of his firearms in 180 days.

Hughes' wife turned over the three handguns, two rifles, two shotguns, various ammunition and a pocketknife to police Nov. 11, 2010, after a lengthy standoff between police and her husband. She had contacted police that day out of concern for the welfare of her husband, who had broken a lengthy streak of sobriety and was drinking, according to court records.

One of the shotguns is his wife's family heirloom, court records state.

Hughes apologized to police a few days after the standoff and was told his weapons would be returned after required registration checks and ballistics tests, court documents show. Yet he said police would not release the firearms, and, after several months, they took action to seize them.

Police said Hughes showed up intoxicated on multiple occasions during that period and made several threats, including claims he would return with state police and call acquaintances from the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

Hughes said earlier this month he poses no danger, has been an upstanding member of the community and has been sober again for more than a year. He acknowledges making a few "empty threats" to police but blames it on his alcohol relapse and frustration over police unlawfully holding on to his property.

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