“…the first time I’ve seen one of these…”

Vincent Sampson, 46, in Oct. 2016, surrendered his weapon when ordered to get on the ground at Midway Panther Stadium, Hewitt…

Waco – A former U.S. Army Sergeant who now commutes to Dallas daily from his home in Hewitt says he doesn’t remember the woman with the phone at the entry to the football stadium.

She testified in a jury trial for public intoxication about her alarm when she saw the gun in the waist band of Vinnie’s shorts as he walked his dog past her.

Following his acquittal for public intoxication, a member of the all-female six-woman jury cautioned him that she didn’t want to hear of any further trouble.

“My son goes to school there, too,” she told him. Sampson’s son was playing ball at an undergraduate game at the time of the confrontation over the weapon .

Every police officer queried following the resulting public uproar said that had he been in School Resource Officer Foley’s shoes, to a man, they would have shot Sampson.

The civil authorities found a resolution to the cultural contretemps.

Sgt. Sampson will keep his job as a civilian employee of the Defense Department; Judge Brad Cates waived the restriction on leaving McLennan County for the 15 months deferred adjudication he sentenced him to this week in County Court at Law No. 2. In addition to his fine of $1,600, Sampson will perform 10 hours of community service.

When the prosecutor recommended he should order Sampson to surrender his .380 semiauto handgun, Judge Cates demurred, saying he did not see that as  necessary.

He waived travel restrictions on his sentence. Sampsonwill be allowed to visit his home town of Boston and make a business trip to the west coast in his job as an Army logistics specialist who supervises the transportation of youthful troopers to their basic training duty stations following their induction into military service.

He recalls the nearly two years he spent supervising U.S. Army troopers in the NATO forces serving in the peace keeping mission of the civil war in Bosnia during the nineties – the Serbian “ethnic cleansing” of muslim citizens of Kosovo and Herzegovina.

“I brought home every one who went there with me,” Sampson told me.

Following his final honorable discharge from the Army, he worked at the VA call center in Waco, directing the inquiries of veterans seeking benefits and medical treatment.

The judge looked at his folder when his case was called and said, “This is the first one of these that I’ve seen.” 

Cody Cleveland, his 33 year-old lawyer, told Judge Cates, “My client is willing to comply with all the terms” of his sentence.

And with that, the Court accepted his plea of guilty to the offense of carrying a firearm into a sporting event.

The events for which he answered were nothing so much as a cultural clash, a reaction by a woman who objected to what for Sampson had become a conditioned approach to surviving any given day during his overseas service.

Carrying weapons in a foreign nation where people ran for their lives on the streets of Sarajevo, dodging Serbian sniper fire, was nothing less than routine.

Their slow deaths from starvation in camps operated by their ethnic rivals was an accepted part of a civil war that raged in the power vacuum of the former Soviet satellite of Yugoslavia.

Sampson and his men guarded the mass graves of those who lost their lives to centuries of hate. He safeguarded the evidence of war crimes committed in the name of social justice. Along with service in Desert Storm, the operation that recovered the oil fields of Kuwait from the Iraqi forces of Saddam Hussein, that was Sampson’s war.

Attorney Cody Cleveland, (L), outside the court with Sgt. Sampson (R)

Prohibiting the possession of all weapons at schools and other venues amounts to nothing less than hanging a sign outside the doors to tell any psycho, “Come on in. Bring your guns. No one will oppose you here. You can slaughter the helpless at will.”

So mote it be.

  • The Legendary

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