More details emerge on courthouse gun arrest

December 17, 2012

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

More information has come from the Portsmouth Municipal Building regarding the woman arrested last week for carrying a concealed handgun into the building and according to Muncipal Court Judge Seven Mowery, the gun at first went undetected and nearly made it into a Portsmouth Municipal Courtroom.

Mowery was unable to discuss the specifics of the situation because of a pending case. But he did talk about the court security system and where the initial failure occured.

On Dec. 13, the Daily Times carried a story about Deborah Fouch, 56, of Minford. She is apparently facing a charge of attempting to convey a .380 semi-automatic handgun into a Portsmouth Municipal courtroom. Police say around 8:58 a.m. on Dec. 12, Fouch came to the building for an appearance in court and was carrying a loaded firearm in her purse. Captain Lynn Brewer said court security officers intercepted her after she scanned her purse through the metal detectors on her way to a court room. The purse was reportedly found to contain a .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun.

Later information released to the Daily Times indicates the detection was not immediate.

“The (Daily Times) story was not inaccurate,” Mowery said. “The system did work. There was a disabled person buzzing at the side, so there was one person there, and one person letting someone in at the side door. The other person saw the screen after the lady had passed. So the gun was found on the screen, and the lady was stopped before she entered the court room.”

Mowery was unable to verify a rumor that an employee had lost his or her job over the incident, citing personnel issues as his reason.

“He shouldn’t have left his post to go let someone in the side door without someone there to take the spot and see it immediately,” Mowery said. “Did the X-Ray machine work? Yes. Was the lady stopped? Yes.”

Again, Mowery would not speak further on the issue because of a pending court case.

Mowery was adamant that placing the security system at the entrance to the Municipal Building has been a positive move by the city and he said there are things to learn from events such as those that occurred last week.

“One thing we have changed on our protocol is that of the two people that are at the scanner, if one of them has to go to let a person in on the side, or go for any personal reason, they are to have somebody fill that spot before they leave,” Mowery said. “Two is not necessarily enough if you’ve got to have an occasional break, they need to get somebody from the Probation Department, which is right there. But they have to do that as a matter of protocol. So that is one thing that we’ve learned.”

Mowery said it was chilling for him to watch the video of the woman coming in, knowing the way things happen across the country when shootings such as the one which occurred last Friday in Connecticut occur.

Portsmouth Police Cheif Robert Ware said Fouch had been issued a concealed carry permit but that the permit had expired.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com