Whitehall school board member pleads not guilty to illegal concealed carry
Whitehall Board of Education member Brandon Howard entered a plea of not guilty Oct. 2 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to a charge of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.
Attorney Samuel Shamansky represents Howard and told ThisWeek Whitehall News on Oct. 3 that he and his client desire to quickly resolve the issue.
“(Brandon) has entered a plea of not guilty, and we look forward to discovery from the prosecutor’s office so we can resolve this case as quickly as possible,” Shamansky said.
Brent Howard, Brandon’s father, and treasurer of the city of Whitehall, confirmed during the Oct. 2 Whitehall City Council meeting that the family had obtained legal counsel, but he had no further comment about the incident.
Brandon Howard has not been available for comment.
Shamansky said he has yet to review the specifics of the case but has asked prosecutors for all material relative to the incident.
A Franklin County grand jury, based on information from the Whitehall Division of Police, handed up an indictment Sept. 28 against Brandon Howard for one count of carrying a concealed weapon, a fourth-degree felony.
The indictment stems from an Aug. 7 incident in which Howard allegedly was carrying a loaded firearm during Whitehall’s National Night Out celebration at John Bishop Park.
Howard was not arrested and surrendered the firearm to police.
According to a Whitehall police report, Board of Education member Mike Adkins informed Whitehall Police Chief Richard Zitzke that Howard was carrying a concealed handgun and did not have a permit to do so.
Police confirmed through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office that Howard did not have a concealed-carry permit.
Zitzke and Whitehall Police Maj. Trent Martin approached Howard and asked if he had a gun. Howard told police he was carrying a firearm. Howard told police he had obtained a permit about one week prior to the incident as he is employed with a security company.
Police had personal knowledge that Howard was employed as a security company, according to the report.
Howard told police he did not have the permit but usually keeps it in his vehicle. Police accompanied Howard to his vehicle, where he was unable to locate it, and advised police it was at his residence.
While at his vehicle, Brent Howard and Bill Wood, the spouse of another Whitehall board member, arrived at Brandon Howard’s vehicle, police said.
According to the report, police did not consider Brandon Howard a flight risk and believed he had obtained the permit. Police allowed Brent Howard to take possession of the firearm.
Brandon Howard told police he would present the permit at the Whitehall Division of Police by 4 p.m. the following day, police said.
When Brandon Howard did not report to the station Aug. 8, police contacted the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and was told CCW permits are recoded with the state as they are issued.
On Aug. 9, Whitehall police detained Brandon Howard during a traffic stop. According to the report, the traffic stop occurred at or near the Ross Road residence of Brandon Howard’s fiancee, Adkins’ daughter.
Brandon Howard told police his employer mistakenly had informed him he had a permit to carry a firearm.
According to the report, Brandon Howard told police he was a “victim of relying on what is boss told him” and would no longer carry a gun.
Brandon Howard told police his employer never gave him any documentation, contradicting what he initially told police Aug. 7 at National Night Out, police said in the report.
Police retrieved the firearm and confiscated it.
According to the report, Brandon Howard told police he had assumed the issue would be “just swept under the rug,” Zitzke wrote in his report.
Police told him a prosecutor would determine whether charges would be filed.
The gun was sent to a laboratory for testing and after determined to be an operable firearm, the case was presented to a grand jury, which returned an indictment Sept. 28.
Howard, 21, is serving his first term on the Whitehall Board of Education, having been elected in November 2011. He is a 2009 graduate of Bishop Hartley High School.
His mother, Ronda, also is a Whitehall board member. Brent Howard, the city’s current treasurer, is a former City Council President.