GREENFIELD – A man who aimed an airsoft rifle at his neighbor and threatened to kill him now faces felony charges, records show.
Dispatchers received a 911 call last week from a man living at the Economy Motel on West Main Street. The caller said a man he recognized as one of his neighbors pointed a weapon while passing by and called a threat in his direction, charging documents state.
When deputies arrived, Matthew Pickett, 32, 3638 W. U.S. 40, No. 14, Greenfield, was waiting calmly for them, according to police reports. As he was placed in handcuffs, he told Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy Christie McFarland he knew someone was going to call 911 about him, and he listened to police broadcasts through a scanner app on his cellphone so he would know when they were coming, records state.
McFarland relayed the neighbor’s allegations, and Pickett told her he’d been carrying an airsoft rifle — not a real gun — while hunting for coyotes behind the motel with a friend, court documents state.
The gun investigators recovered during the investigation was, indeed, a fake: an airsoft rifle was found inside Pickett’s motel room after he agreed to a search, according to police reports.
When investigators spoke to Pickett’s neighbor, he offered no motive for the altercation, saying only he “has had trouble with Pickett in the past,” but nothing had happened recently, charging documents state.
Deputies also interviewed the man who’d been coyote-hunting with Pickett. The man said he was carrying a .22-caliber long rifle, but he knew Pickett, who has a felony conviction on his record, wasn’t allowed to have access to firearms, so he kept it away from him, court records state.
Pickett was with him, but he carried only his airsoft gun, the man told police.
Pickett was convicted in 2014 of intimidation, a Class D felony prohibiting him from possessing firearms, records show.
Airsoft guns shoot powerful projectiles and are legally considered a dangerous weapon, police said; even if Pickett aimed only a fake gun at his neighbor, he faces the same charges as though it were a real one.
It isn’t the first time allegations of pointing an imitation weapon have landed Pickett in trouble with law enforcement, records show.
In 2006, Pickett raised what appeared to be a semiautomatic handgun at police after leading them on a 20-minute high-speed chase. Officers fired, striking Pickett at least two times in the hand and shoulder. Pickett spent days recovering in an Indianapolis hospital.
Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton — a deputy prosecutor in 2006 — said at the time the officers on the scene acted in good faith when they shot Pickett, believing he was pointing a real weapon at them.
Pickett is charged with intimidation with a deadly weapon, a Level 5 felony, and pointing a firearm at a person, a Level 6 felony.
Between them, those charges carry a maximum penalty of 8.5 years; Level 5 felonies have a sentence range of one to six years, and Level 6 felonies have a sentence range of six months to 2.5 years.
On Tuesday, a judge set Pickett’s bond at $1,000 cash. He remained in the Hancock County Jail at press time, records show.
He has been ordered to have no contact with his neighbor.