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Posted March 4, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Defendant in gun case denies firing shots at anyone

By Joe Beck

FRONT ROYAL -- A man charged with three gun-related offenses in a Feb. 13 incident that led police to concentrate their forces around his home denied Monday that he fired a gun at a neighbor or at a neighbor's house.

"I would never do that," John Robinson said during a brief interview on his front lawn.

Robinson described himself as "totally innocent of every charge, except possibly one."

He declined to say which of the offenses he faces he might have committed.

Robinson, 59, of 735 W. 15th St., was released from jail on a secure bond after having been charged with firing a gun into an occupied home, reckless handling of a gun and firing a gun within town limits.

He said accounts appearing in the Northern Virginia Daily, based on information from Front Royal police, were "greatly exaggerated."

Robinson denied that the confrontation with police constituted a standoff, "not on my part anyway."

He refused to discuss why police state in court documents that neighbors reported he fired shots, one of which landed at someone's feet and another that is believed to have traveled in the direction of a bystander.

"Maybe you should ask them that," Robinson said, referring to police.

Robinson declined to answer whether police had seized any guns in his house after the incident, but a search warrant filed in Warren County Circuit Court shows a long list of ammunition and guns found in the residence.

The 37 items include three loaded guns, all found in a safe, according to the search warrant's inventory list. Police also discovered a shotgun in a cardboard box, a double-barrel shotgun in a hutch in the kitchen, a dummy grenade on the kitchen counter, one gun on a top dresser and another in a closet, according to the inventory list.

The search warrant affidavit written by Detective Crystal Cline repeats earlier police statements that a hostage negotiator contacted Robinson. After being advised to leave his home, he did so with no resistance, according to the affidavit.

Robinson disagreed with police references to the role of the hostage negotiator during the confrontation.

"While I was lying on the ground, one of them poked the muzzle of his rifle on my forehead," Robinson said of the police.

Several of Robinson's neighbors said they are unfazed by his return to the neighborhood after his release from jail.

Phil Prentice, who described Robinson as reclusive, said he has spoken with him since the incident.

"He told me he was experimenting and shooting into a metal barrel in the back of his house," Prentice said, adding, "I didn't even know he had any guns."

William Sine said he wasn't home during the incident, but remained comfortable with Robinson as his next-door neighbor.

"He never did bother me," Sine said, adding, "I haven't seen him very much."

Terry Pagano said the neighborhood remains unchanged from what it was before Robinson's arrest.

"He's being his usual reclusive self," Pagano said of Robinson.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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