Dowagiac man gets jail time for firing gun in road rage incident

Published 5:00 am Saturday, September 2, 2023

 CASSOPOLIS – A Dowagiac man who fired a gun at others after a road rage incident was sentenced to a year in jail Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.

Thomas Nelson Wesaw III, 23, of Riverside Drive in Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to discharge of a firearm from a vehicle and carrying a concealed weapon and was sentenced to one year in jail with credit for 25 days served and $1,826 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Oct. 31, 2021 on Riverside Drive in Dowagiac. Wesaw drove by two vehicles and fired shots in their direction. Police found a pistol, a spent cartridge and ammunition when they searched his car. The gun was registered to Wesaw but he did not have a concealed pistol license.

Defense attorney Shannon Sible noted that the plea agreement saved Wesaw from facing a felony firearm conviction which would have carried a mandatory two year prison term. He did ask the prosecutor’s office to reconsider the year in jail agreement and change it to a probationary term.

 “It seems to me that the people can get what they want with probation,” Sible said. “There is oversight and the threat of prison if he violates.”

He also asked if Wesaw could turn himself in to the jail on Monday so he could attend this weekend’s Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi pow wow with his family. While he said he understood the importance of Wesaw’s cultural heritage, Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman refused that request.

“You claimed you fired at the woods and not the people in the other cars,” Judge Herman told Wesaw. “After the road rage incident, it’s understandable that they thought you were firing at them. When you discharge a firearm, it’s serious business. Whether you have a CPL or not, you can’t fire a weapon at vehicles.”

“With road rage incidents, people can get upset quick and if someone has a gun in their car, it can get serious,” he said. “You can possess a firearm, but you have to use it properly … Even shooting into the woods could be serious if you hit somebody, then you would be looking at prison.”

The judge advised Wesaw to change his ways and be a positive role model for his young children.

“You may want to think about being there for your children, you need to be a role model for them,” he said. “You need to teach them to use weapons in a responsible way. The direction you take in life will have a big impact on the direction they take.”