A Logan County assistant prosecutor has been suspended indefinitely after pulling a gun at work and threatening to shoot the fake spiders hung around the office as decoration for Halloween, the county’s prosecuting attorney said Thursday.
Assistant Prosecutor Chris White is really afraid of spiders, Prosecuting Attorney John Bennett said Thursday. Bennett suspended White with pay Wednesday over the incident that occurred earlier this month.
Like they often do during holidays, Bennett said, secretaries at the prosecutor’s office decorated at the beginning of the month to celebrate Halloween.
“Some black, some brown — but some pretty good sized” spider decorations were hung, Bennett said.
White “told the secretaries that he was deathly afraid of spiders, got out a gun and walked down the hall into an office. He pulled out a chair, put a fake spider down and threatened to shoot all of the spiders in the place,” Bennett said.
Bennett wasn’t in the office at the time of the incident. When he returned, secretaries alerted him to what had happened. There is a video of the incident, Bennett said, although it doesn’t include sound.
Secretaries “were all upset, and rightfully so,” Bennett said. White “assures me it wasn’t loaded, but [the secretaries] wouldn’t have known that.”
White didn’t attempt to fire it or point it at anyone, said Bennett, who issued a memorandum to his employees the day of the incident stating that guns no longer would be allowed inside the office. The office’s investigator is still allowed to carry a gun, but he’s a former police officer, Bennett said.
The prosecutor’s office is not housed inside the county courthouse.
The Logan County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident, according to the prosecutor. He also called the State Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which oversees attorneys in the state.
“Just to see if I should file [a complaint],” he said. “They indicated, based on these facts, that they didn’t see, under the rules, that I needed to file anything. I just reported it to them orally and wanted to ask for advice.”
Bennett said White has worked as an assistant in Logan County for more than five years and has never caused any trouble before.
“People have since [the incident] indicated that [White] has a bit of a temper every now and then, but I’ve never seen it,” Bennett said. “I wish someone would have told me.”
He decided to suspend White on Wednesday, several weeks after the incident occurred, because secretaries were still upset.
“Quite frankly, I talked with our three secretaries, the ones involved, on a couple occasions, and they were still concerned, so I knew something needed to be done — more than what I had done,” Bennett said. “And we’re just seeing if we can’t work our way through it as an office.”
The spider decorations have been removed from the office, he added.
White could not be reached for comment. Bennett said White apologized and has acknowledged that what he did was wrong.