A teenager who shot at two Douglas County sheriff’s deputies last fall has admitted to three charges in a plea agreement with prosecutors.
At a hearing Thursday, 18-year-old Tyler Pitzl admitted to first-degree assault, use of a firearm to commit a felony and attempted first-degree assault. In juvenile court, defendants admit or deny charges instead of pleading guilty, not guilty or no contest.
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped a second weapon charge and a second-degree assault charge.
Pitzl, then 17, went on a rampage Sept. 3 at his parents’ house south of Waterloo. He punched his mother, ran at his parents with a baseball bat and fired a shotgun at two deputies, striking one in the hand and forearm. Deputies returned fire, hitting Pitzl in the abdomen and rupturing a kidney.
Pitzl initially had been charged as an adult with attempted murder and would have faced a maximum of 220 years in prison if the case had been tried in adult court. Douglas County District Judge Marlon Polk ruled in November that the case should be moved to juvenile court, and prosecutors appealed.
Wednesday was Pitzl’s first hearing since the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in May that his case will remain in juvenile court. The court will have authority over him until he turns 19 in February.
“We don’t have a lot of time to do a lot of things ... before we have to conclude our jurisdiction ... and (treatment) may not be completed before (Pitzl) turns 19,” said juvenile court Judge Vernon Daniels. “You ought to approach this with your eyes wide open.”
Daniels said Pitzl’s parents should be willing to continue any therapy or suggestions from the court after Pitzl’s birthday.
The judge ordered that Pitzl undergo chemical dependency and psychological evaluations before September, when the judge may impose additional requirements. Pitzl also will be on temporary probation until then, at the suggestion of Deputy Douglas County Attorney Kati Kilcoin.
Pitzl’s attorney, James Martin Davis, said he and the Pitzls are pleased that Pitzl will get the services he needs to rehabilitate.
Davis has said that Pitzl took four hard hits to the head during a football game the night before the incident. Before football season, school tests indicated Pitzl had suffered a concussion previously, Davis said.
“We’re going to have experts here evaluate what needs to be done,” Davis said. “They have to identify what services are available” and what Pitzl needs now and in the long term, he said.
Pitzl apologized again Thursday to the deputies.
“I’m really sorry for what I did to the sheriff’s deputies and all of the police officers,” he said. “I just don’t know how much I can say I’m sorry.”
He is awaiting trial in Douglas County court on a misdemeanor charge of false reporting. Authorities have said that in late May, he called 911 to report that he had been robbed at knifepoint. He later recanted his story.