A Lansdale man who feigned suicide with an Airsoft rifle and pointed the fake gun at a Hatfield Township officer on May 24 will avoid jail time as long as he abides by the requirements of Montgomery County’s behavioral health program.
According to Peg Gibbons of The Intelligencer, Nicholas Eustace, 23, of Andover Road, pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault on an officer this week in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.
However, in order to get his life back on track, Eustace was admitted into a court-supervised diversion program for defendants who commit crimes because of mental health issues, according to the article. People who complete the program likely will do no time behind bars, according to the article.
If Eustace fails to meet requirements, he could be sentenced to five to 10 years on the assault charge, according to the article.
Hatfield Township Officer Keith Blank responded to a May 24 call from county Emergency Services and Lansdale Police of a suicidal armed subject heading toward Moyer Road from Andover Road, according to a Times Herald article.
Blank testified at a June 12 preliminary hearing before District Judge Andrea Duffy that he encountered Eustace, fitting the description of an armed white male, north on Logan Drive and holding a gun, according to the article.
Blank said he feared for his safety when Eustace did not comply with instructions to drop the gun, later found to be an Airsoft 6mm BB gun, according to the article. The gun did not have an orange plug that identifies it as a fake weapon.
Blank is quoted in the article:
He kind of looked right through me. I still wasn’t 100 percent sure it wasn’t a real gun.
The article states that Eustace's attorney, Christina Corr, told the court that Eustace has bipolar disorder and was off his medication.
Blank testified that Eustace "raised the gun up like he was going to fire," according to the article.
Blank warned Eustace that he was going to shoot, but Eustace pointed his gun at his right temple and pulled the trigger, according to the article. The sound the gun made did not match the sound of a semi-automatic weapon, Blank said in the article.
Corr argued that Eustace did not point the gun at Blank, according to the article.
Corr argued that the Commonwealth had no evidence that Eustace allegedly damaged Blank's patrol car when he allegedly entered the open driver's side door of the car, which was parked and running, according to the article.
Corr is quoted in the article as such:
We have no evidence that he attempted to move the car. There were no punches. There were no kicks.
The article stated that Corr unsuccessfully argued dismissal of one felony assault charge and a terroristic threats charge.
A passerby, Maliq Harris, testified that he saw the struggle and aided Blank in taking Eustace into custody by holding the defendant's legs during the arrest, according to the article.
Eustace was also charged with the following misdemeanors:
- Possessing an instrument of crime with intent
- Terroristic threats
- Resisting arrest
- Simple assault
- Recklessly endangering another person
- Institutional vandalism of an educational facility
- Criminal mischief with damage to a property
- A summary charge of harassment