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John Widmann III was arrested after police say he threatened another driver and others with a gun at a Sarasota McDonald's drive-thru

6:38 PM, Jul 6, 2012   |    comments
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Sarasota, Florida -- A man who apparently lost his cool at a McDonald's drive-thru is in jail Friday for aggravated assault.

Sarasota Sheriff's deputies say John Widmann III got upset about how a man pulled into the drive-thru lane and went on a tirade pointing a gun at the man, a McDonald's employee and a group of kids nearby.

During his fit, witnesses say Widmann, 56, also threatened to kill the driver of the car during the heated exchange before driving off in a white Mercedes sedan.

Deputies pulled Widmann over near Beneva Road and Guld Gate Drive and arrested him without incident. Deputies found a .38 caliber revolver and ammunition on the passenger seat.

The state had issued Widmann a concealed weapons permit back in February.

Francis Misantone, co-owner of The Bullet Hole firearms store, says, "I tell all my students if you take a gun out of your holster, it's only in a grave situation, that you intend to use it. Never take it out to threaten with it."

Misantone says this road rage incident went too far and the gun owner overreacted. "If there was a show of aggressiveness, of force, if he had a bat in his hand... but there was nothing. I think the guy with the gun was too early to produce that."

He adds, "If the guy is just cursing at you, not going to hurt you, only as a last resort do you get the gun out."

Deputies charged Widmann with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and improperly exhibiting a firearm. A Sarasota County judge set a $25,000 bond for the first charge and $500 for the second charge.

According to the incident report, Widmann tells the deputy he was "only defending himself and that his rights were being violated, because he believed he had the right to protect himself."

Witness Merle Miller says he and a McDonald's employee felt threatened when Widmann pulled out his gun and he says several kids were also nearby. Miller says, "Just because you have a concealed weapons permit, doesn't mean you can put it out anytime you want."

As of Friday afternoon, Widmann was still in jail. The deputy who wrote Widmann's incident report recommends that the state review Widmann' s conceal weapon permit and consider pulling it after Thursday's arrest. 


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