Man given citation for discharging a firearm within city limits for shooting BB gun

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – A man was given a citation for discharging a firearm and was taken into custody by police at gunpoint April 8 after a call came in regarding a man waving a gun in the air.

The gun in question turned out to be a BB gun, but under a city of Safford ordinance, shooting a BB or pellet gun in the city limits carries the same charge as shooting a firearm. 

Officers were dispatched at about 2:15 p.m. to the 1300 block of W. Thatcher Boulevard regarding a weapons offense. The person who called in the situation described a man waving a handgun in the air and possibly discharging it. 

Upon arrival, officers came upon a male subject later identified as Leonard Dever. Multiple officers had their firearms trained on Dever as they gave him verbal commands and handcuffed him. 

Dever allegedly admitted to having a BB gun and said he was shooting it at a tree for target practice. The BB gun was inspected and was found to have the appearance of a real revolver. 

Dever was then given a citation for discharging a firearm within the city limits and released. While it may seem harsh to receive such a citation, the situation could have been much worse.  

On Jan. 18, 2016, Daniel Leetin Shaver, 26, was shot and killed by Mesa Police officer Philip Brailsford in the hallway of a La Quinta Inn & Suites after a witness reported seeing a rifle pointed out of Shaver’s window. Shaver had a pellet gun he used to exterminate birds inside grocery stores for his occupation but did not have it on him in the hallway when he was surrounded by six officers pointing firearms at him.

When an intoxicated Shaver attempted to follow police orders to crawl toward them, he reached to pull up his boxer shorts and the officer shot and killed him because he thought Shaver was reaching for a concealed weapon. Brailsford was later found not guilty of murder and reckless manslaughter.