Man found guilty in connection with VFW shooting sentenced to 30 years

Local News

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – The man found guilty in connection with a shooting at the Evansville VFW post on Wabash Ave. was sentenced to 30 years on Wednesday.

In August, a jury found 70-year-old John Michael Burghardt guilty on two counts of attempted murder, two counts of attempted aggravated battery, and two counts of battery by means of a deadly weapon.

Burghardt was accused of shooting Paul Glover in the abdomen in January.

Police said the incident stemmed from a verbal altercation after Burghardt threatened to shoot someone inside the building and was confronted by Glover.

“We just wanted to be sure that the community was safe,” says Jess Powers of the Vanderburgh Co. Prosecutor’s Office.

During the sentencing, prosecutors say the shooting that night could have ended with several deaths if it weren’t for the actions of people who stopped Burghardt, and that his gun malfunctioning at one point.

“This could’ve ended horribly,” said Powers. “Thankfully, for the actions of those brave individuals, it didn’t. One of the victims will live with the injuries for the rest of his life. However, this could’ve ended a lot differently.”

Burghardt’s lawyer, Dawnya Taylor, says the description by prosecutors didn’t fit the characterization of an attempted mass shooting, and she pointed out Burghardt’s lack of a criminal record. She added his claim of PTSD wasn’t brought up in the trial because she didn’t believe it was not appropriate to hide behind it. Shortly after the trial, Burghardt cited his PTSD to Eyewitness News as a factor in his actions at the post.

“It was like it was beyond by control. It was. When I was coming around the building after I met him it was as combat as you can get. I mean, if somebody had jumped out behind one of those cars, I would hate to think what would happened because I was on edge,” he said during an inteview last month.

Burghardt told people in the courtroom he had no answer for the shooting. The judge credited Burghardt for apologizing, but the judge says he was still struck by the rage displayed in jail calls Burghardt made after his arrest.

“The victims in this place will never be satisfied, unfortunately. They have been through the ringer mentally, physically, they did not deserve this. Because of his actions, they will forever live with this. But they don’t have to go back into a courtroom now,” Powers says.

Taylor also said during the hearing there are plans to appeal.

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(This story was originally published on September 4, 2019)

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