Man sentenced for firing gun New Years morning
By Joe Gorman
A man arrested early New Year’s Day after a report of gunfire — who told police, “Everybody shoots on New Year’s Eve” — was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison.
Judge Lou D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court handed down the sentence to Laronnie Franklin, 34, of Youngstown, who entered guilty pleas March 30 to felony counts of carrying concealed weapons, being a felon in possession of a firearm and a misdemeanor count of obstructing official business.
Reports said police responding to a gunfire call on Dickson Street saw Franklin waving a gun in the air and firing it. He ignored police orders and ran inside a house and stayed there for several minutes. Reports said police recovered two guns after Franklin came out.
Franklin’s attorney, Ryan Ingram, said his client was in a state of “severe intoxication” at the time he fired the guns and has an alcohol problem that often gets him into trouble.
Franklin declined to speak before he was sentenced.
Judge D’Apolito said Franklin is very lucky because the combination of alcohol and firearms could have led to far more serious charges than the ones he pleaded guilty to.
“That night could’ve been a disaster,” Judge D’Apolito said. “Someone could’ve been shot. Someone could’ve been killed.”
Judge D’Apolito said he would consider early release for Franklin and place him on probation when he gets out of prison, but he warned him if he ever gets caught with a gun while on probation, he will go right back to prison and serve the balance of his term.
“I will put you in prison for as long as possible,” Judge D’Apolito said.
As part of the plea agreement, two of the guns recovered from the scene by police will be forfeited by Franklin and destroyed by police.