Apparently, this was a 22-gun salute.

Following the January funeral for an Army veteran who shot himself after a police chase, an Omaha woman decided to do an impromptu version of an honor guard’s rifle salute.

Savannah Mangiamelli, 28, raised a handgun out the passenger window of the Honda she was riding in and fired into the air several times near 23rd and I Streets.

Mangiamelli had no one in her sights. But someone had her in theirs: Omaha police gang unit officers had been watching the funeral as they sometimes do when they anticipate that gang members will be in attendance.

Mangiamelli wasn’t a gang member. She also wasn’t part of the honor guard.

Her attorney, Glenn Shapiro, said she simply raised the handgun and fired as a sort of misguided tribute to Blake Cedar, the 26-year-old friend who had killed himself Dec. 26.

Cedar’s death had come after Saunders County sheriff’s deputies had tried to pull him over following a suspected theft. The Omaha man led deputies and state troopers on a chase that reached speeds of 100 mph. The chase ended near 180th and Harrison Streets in Omaha when Cedar pulled out a gun and shot himself.

Following Cedar’s funeral, Mangiamelli’s salute prompted a similar chase.

According to an Omaha police affidavit:

Officers conducting surveillance watched Mangiamelli, wearing a pink hooded sweatshirt and jeans, leave Cedar’s funeral about 5:10 p.m. Jan. 10. Mangiamelli, another woman and a man piled into a white Honda Accord that pulled out of the parking lot into an alley.

A police sergeant parked nearby saw Mangiamelli holding a firearm out the window of the Honda. On the radio with his fellow officers, he heard several shots ring out as the car drove near 23rd and I Streets.

Omaha police cruisers converged on the Honda. At Mangiamelli’s urging, the female driver took off. The Honda sped through South Omaha, then downtown, then over the bridge to Council Bluffs and onto Interstate 29.

With the Omaha police helicopter following, the Honda sped “extremely recklessly, blowing through stop signs and red lights, passing vehicles in oncoming traffic and shoulders” until the driver finally lost control and the car spun to a stop at the Honey Creek exit off I-29.

Officers arrested the three people in the car. Mangiamelli “immediately began making statements that she was the one (who) fired the gun.”

“She ... stated she was going to pop it off for Blake,” Officer Chad Wiebers wrote.

The two other occupants advised her not to, but she did anyway.

When police tried to pull them over, Mangiamelli later admitted, she told the driver “to run or she was going to slap her.” Mangiamelli then threw the gun out of the window near 24th and C Streets. Police later recovered the gun, a Glock that they discovered had been stolen.

Mangiamelli refused to tell police who gave her the gun.

In a plea deal, Mangiamelli pleaded no contest to attempted possession of a firearm, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. On Aug. 21, Judge Shelly Stratman put her on four years of probation.

Within a week, Mangiamelli’s fleeing ways returned. She failed to show up for her first probation meeting and cut off her GPS ankle monitor. She subsequently failed five drug tests, testing positive for methamphetamine on Aug. 26, Sept. 5, Sept. 6, Sept. 21 and Sept. 23. She then forged a letter from a drug counselor, claiming that she had signed up for inpatient treatment.

Last week, she and Shapiro, her attorney, urged the judge to put her back on probation. Stratman wasn’t having it.

Holding up the doctored document, Stratman said: “This is a lie to the court.”

“I didn’t lie,” Mangiamelli said.

“Don’t even get me started,” Stratman said, cutting her off. “I get lied to everyday. You’ve got to quit lying to yourself.

“You have a serious addiction and you are not even prepared to start getting sober. You’ve been sober for a hot minute. A hot minute.”

With that, Stratman sentenced Mangiamelli to three to eight years in prison. Under state law, Mangiamelli must serve 1½ years in prison before she is eligible for parole. Absent parole, she’ll have to serve four years.

Stratman’s sentence came with a simple message: Next time, don’t shoot. And don’t blow it when a judge gives you a shot.

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Reporter - Courts

Todd Cooper covers courts, lawyers, trials, legal issues, the justice system and government wrongdoing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @CooperonCourts. Phone: 402-444-1275.

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