PLATTSMOUTH – A Union man will spend multiple years in state prison for firing weapons at authorities during a standoff in late August.
James B. McClane, 39, appeared in Cass County District Court Monday morning for a sentencing hearing. McClane pled guilty in January to one Class IC felony charge of use of a firearm to commit a felony. He also pled guilty to one Class IIIA felony count of terroristic threats.
Prosecutors agreed to dismiss a Class ID felony count of unlawful discharge of a firearm and one Class II felony charge of attempted first-degree assault on an officer. The plea deal also called for both the state and defense to recommend a prison sentence of five to seven years on the firearms charge and one year on the terroristic threats offense.
McClane also agreed to allow the state to destroy numerous firearms he had owned at the time of the standoff. Judge Michael Smith formally accepted that portion of the plea deal Monday. McClane would violate federal law if he would try to own firearms in the future.
Deputy County Attorney Steven Sunde told the court McClane began arguing with a family member on the morning of Aug. 27. The family member suspected McClane was using illegal drugs and asked him about it. The argument escalated to a point where the family member left the house and went to the Union post office building for his own safety.
The family member contacted Cass County Sheriff’s Office deputies about the situation and asked them to come to the house with him. He asked them to wait outside as he tried to resolve the dispute. The relative soon came back outside and said McClane had been breaking furniture. Everyone then retreated when gunshots occurred at 9:06 a.m.
Sunde said CCSO deputies, Nebraska State Patrol troopers and members of the NSP SWAT/Response Team set up a large perimeter around the house. Personnel from Cass County Emergency Management Agency, Murray Fire and Rescue, Union Fire Department and Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office assisted them during the standoff.
McClane fired at least eight shots in the direction of officers while the incident unfolded. No law enforcement personnel were injured by the bullets, but they were very concerned McClane would eventually harm either himself or other people. Authorities later discovered one of the bullet slugs in the siding of a neighboring home.
NSP personnel deployed a bomb robot inside the house during the afternoon. They were able to view McClane with a camera that was attached to the robot. They decided to deploy tear gas after learning he was still armed with a rifle.
McClane walked out of the house on his own accord approximately 20 minutes later. Authorities took him to Bellevue Medical Center for a mental and physical evaluation. Sunde said McClane had multiple cuts on his arms from breaking glass windows inside the home.
Sunde said McClane told authorities during an interview that he had not been trying to hurt anyone by firing weapons at them. He told officers he wanted to scare them away from the premises instead.
McClane has been incarcerated in Cass County Jail on a bond of $1 million, 10 percent since his arrest. He has accumulated 190 days of jail time.
Sunde told the court Monday he felt prison time was necessary for McClane. He said the firearms charge would contain a mandatory minimum term of five years.
“He put a lot of people at risk,” Sunde said. “It was a very serious situation.”
Defense attorney Julie Bear said she felt the plea agreement contained an appropriate amount of prison time. She said McClane had been under the influence of drugs during the standoff and had no previous criminal incidents involving firearms. She said a driving under the influence of alcohol charge and several traffic violations had been the previous sum of his criminal history.
“This incident and everything that went with it is completely out of character for Mr. McClane,” Bear said.
Smith said he had been contemplating the possibility of issuing a longer sentence for McClane. He said he would follow the sentencing recommendations contained in the plea agreement.
McClane will serve five to seven years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections on the firearms charge and one year on the terroristic threats charge. Those charges will run on a consecutive basis.
McClane will be required to serve at least five years on the Class IC felony charge. He will spend approximately 6.5 years in state prison on both counts.