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David Van Sent to Prison for Fun Dome Shooting

David Van Sent to Prison for Fun Dome Shooting

Posted - Mar. 3, 2004 at 7:40 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A youth who fired into a crowd outside the Fun Dome in Murray last year, injuring six people, has been sentenced to prison.

Third District Judge Dennis Fuchs on Tuesday sentenced David Van to three years to life for attempted murder and two prison terms of one to 15 years each for aggravated assault, with the sentences to run consecutively. The actual time served will be up to the parole board.

"There is absolutely no excuse for the crimes you committed," Fuchs told Van. "You shot indiscriminately into a crowd of individuals."

He said a diagnostic evaluation and a presentence report for Van show experts seriously doubt the teen can curb his violent tendencies.

"Everything they've given me shows they feel at this point that you're untreatable," Fuchs said. "They think you're a danger to the community."

One psychologist suggested Van could benefit from mental-health counseling, but another report said Van was a poor candidate for any community-based care.

In court, Van said in a nearly inaudible voice that he apologized to the victims and his family.

Prosecutor Vincent Meister said Van was arrogant during his diagnostic evaluation. He said Van described the excitement he got from doing forbidden things and getting away with them.

Meister said Van was a member of a violent gang and, on the day of the crimes, Van's 17th birthday, he was armed and cruising public places.

"He was looking for trouble," Meister said.

The shooting occurred at the Fun Dome on March 29 after Van and his friends got in an argument with young Hispanic men who were mistakenly identified as other gang members, according to court documents.

The fight spilled outside. Van pulled out a gun and shot 17 rounds, hitting six people, shattering windows and scattering terrified patrons.

Defense attorney Fred Metos argued Van's youth was not properly taken into account in the diagnostic report, and he argued that the psychological part of the presentence report indicated that if Van got mental health treatment, he could change.

"Looking at Mr. Van's age, the potential he has with maturity, the potential he has with psychological help, I don't think he's hopeless," Metos said.

Tracy and Jake Thomas, the parents of a 4-year-old boy who was shot as they were leaving a family birthday party at the Fun Dome, were skeptical.

"Do what you can to keep him off the street," Jake Thomas urged the judge. "I don't want to see another kid or family go through this."

Tracy Thomas said she doubted a teenager who blasted a gun 17 times into a crowd could be rehabilitated.

"We look at my son's scars every day and live through this," she said. "We just want to make sure you put him away for as long as you can."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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