May 31, 2013

Bill Nemitz: A handgun sold, a red flag missed

Cabela's refused a mentally erratic man one day, then sold him a weapon the next. The ammo used to kill his mother was free.

By Bill Nemitz

(Continued from page 1)

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Robert LeBrasseur, Leighton's attorney, said he, too, has heard from Cabela's employees through back channels in recent weeks. In fact, he said, he may call one or two of them to testify if it comes to that.

"A lot of people are reaching out on this case," said LeBrasseur. "The fact that Cabela's turned him away because of his mental state only supports, in our opinion, our theory that he wasn't in his right mind at the time this offense was committed."

And what say the folks at Cabela's about their tragic about-face?

Several voicemail messages to company spokesman Joe Arterburn and his assistant drew, as usual, no response.

And while a visit to the store's gun department Thursday afternoon revealed no fewer than 13 sales associates crammed in behind the weapons counter, a manager politely referred any and all questions to the ever-elusive Arterburn.

That leaves Thomas Leighton, still mourning his wife's death and his son's disease, trying to fathom how Cabela's could see the obvious one day and then look right past it the next.

Andrew, he said, had been deteriorating mentally for about four weeks before the shooting.

"But that's nothing new," he said. "We had gone through this several times over the past few years, especially in the springtime, and he usually would be hospitalized. They'd tinker with his medication and two days later they'd send him home. This time it got completely out of control."


"He was in such bad shape mentally that whole week that I can't imagine why (Cabela's) would do something on Thursday that they wouldn't do on Wednesday, when his condition (on Thursday) was probably even worse," Leighton said.

A do-over for a mentally ill man desperate to buy a gun?

Only Cabela's can explain that one.

And they're too busy handing out free bullets.


Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:


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