An assistant prosecutor in West Virginia has been suspended after he pulled a gun on fake spiders at his office, officials say.
Logan County assistant prosecutor Chris White was disturbed by the spiders, which were put out by secretaries as part of the office’s Halloween decorations, WCHS-TV reports.
“Quite naturally, the ladies were concerned, as I would have been. Anybody would be, I would think, with a gun no matter where it was,” his boss, Prosecutor John Bennett told the news station.
The gun was not loaded, but Bennett said it wasn’t possible for White’s co-workers to know that.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. White Suffers From Arachnophobia, the Prosecutor Says
Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders and of being bitten or even touched by a spider. This phobia, again, has its uses since some spiders are poisonous, so steering clear is a good idea. But spiders also have their good points, including getting rid of insects and cleaning up those insects that can make life even more difficult. The phobia may be caused by either having had a bad experience in or near a spider of by witnessing someone else’s fear of spiders. The latter is called a phobia by contagion. It’s a common concern for many people.
Behavioral treatments for those who find this phobia incapacitating is very helpful as is relaxation exercises while either thinking of spiders, looking at pictures of them or being in the same room as a spider.
Bennett says White became irate on October 5 after the fake spider decorations were set out in the office.
“He said they had spiders everyplace and he said he told them it wasn’t funny, and he couldn’t stand them, and he did indeed get a gun out. It had no clip in it, of course they wouldn’t know that, I wouldn’t either if I looked at it, to tell you the truth,” Bennett told WCHS.
White could not be reached for comment.
2. He Has Been an Assistant Prosecutor in Logan County for More Than 5 Years
Bennett says White has been an assistant prosecutor in the Logan County office for more than five years.
“I never saw it coming, that’s for sure. Obviously, I wouldn’t have even hired him if I had seen it coming. And the fact that he’s been there five years and we haven’t had any incidents like this also, to me, is a pretty good indication it’s certainly out of the ordinary,” Bennett told WCHS-TV.
White was admitted to the West Virginia bar in 2003, according to the bar association’s membership directory.
3. A Criminal Investigation Is Underway, But Charges Aren’t Expected
According to Logan County Chief Deputy M.A. Mays, there is a criminal investigation underway and he is reviewing surveillance video of the incident along with questioning people who witnessed it. The surveillance video has not yet been made public.
Mays told WCHS-TV he does not anticipate filing charges, but the interviews he is still conducting could change that.
Logan County Chief Deputy M.A. Mays tells Eyewitness News he has seen surveillance video of the incident and is continuing to question several people.
Mays confirms there is an open criminal investigation, but says it’s not concluded. Mays said he “didn’t anticipate” charges being filed, but said that could change depending on the outcome of more interviews.
He is also facing possible further discipline, including potential termination, from Bennett, who says he does not plan to fire White.
4. He Was the Prosecutor in a Controversial Case Against a Teen Who Wore an NRA Shirt to School
White was one of the prosecutors in the controversial case against a Logan County eighth grader who was arrested after wearing a National Rifle Association T-Shirt to school two years ago.
Jared Marcum, 14, was arrested in April 2013 after wearing a pro-Second Amendment T-shirt to class, WOWK-TV reported at the time. The shirt featured a picture of a gun. After a dispute with his teacher, Marcum was charged with obstruction and disturbing the education process.
5. The Prosecutor Sent a Memo to Employees Banning Guns in the Office After the Incident
White’s boss, Prosecutor John Bennett, told WCHS-TV he has sent a memo banning firearms from the office, with the exception of the gun carried by their investigator.
It is not clear if there was any written rule banning guns from the office prior to the incident.