Defendant says being arrested while drunk with firearm in his car saved his life

Cary Ashby • Mar 10, 2014 at 10:08 PM

The defendant praised how police handled a situation when he had a handgun while he was distraught and drunk.

Daniel Veytsman, 38, of Cleveland Heights, also expressed his gratitude for the Good Samaritan who reported him to the Norwalk Police Department.

"You guys saved my life," Veytsman told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway. "I had a mental breakdown."

The defendant pleaded guilty Thursday to an amended charge of attempted possession of weapons while under disability. The judge followed a joint recommendation by attorneys and sentenced him to six months in prison.

"He'd like to be sentenced right away," Huron County Public Defender David Longo said. "He also has other charges in his home county."

Anyone who has been convicted of a drug-related felony or is under indictment on a drug charge is prohibited from possessing a firearm. Veytsman's Cuyahoga County related conviction is from about 1999. The defendant referred to using cocaine at the time, but said he hadn't been in any trouble since then.

Veytsman's recent conviction is for a Dec. 14 incident.

Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff said the defendant "was distraught about some personal issues in his life" and brought some whiskey into his car, did some drinking while he was driving and "ended up in Norwalk."

Veytsman stopped by a local resident's home and asked him "how to get back to the highway," Woodruff said. The prosecutor said the Good Samaritan generously invited Veytsman inside and out of the cold and called police because he was concerned about how intoxicated and upset the defendant was.

Officer Zach O'Neil responded to the report of an intoxicated male suspect at a Woodlawn Avenue residence at 3:12 a.m.

Veytsman, when police arrived, admitted to having a .22 handgun in his vehicle.

"He gave permission to search his vehicle. ... It (the gun) was under the front seat," Woodruff said.

"It was not loaded. The ammunition was in the glove compartment," added Longo, who said he doesn't believe Veytsman intended to harm anyone except maybe himself.

"He was impressed with how everyone handled the situation," Longo said.

Veytsman, at the scene, was charged with driving under the influence, an open container violation and driving with an expired license in addition to the weapons violation. He later served a three-day sentence at the Huron County Jail for the DUI conviction.

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