NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A disabled Army veteran who was arrested in North Tonawanda has been placed in the care of a VA hospital.
North Tonawanda Police have made it clear that Timothy Payne, 36, never threatened anyone at North Tonawanda City Hall Tuesday, but his behavior in recent weeks prompted family and State Police to be on the lookout for his van. That’s what prompted police to search the van Tuesday and find two rifles , ammo and a loaded pistol. Guns he legally possessed in North Carolina, but because he did not have a pistol permit in NY, he’s charged with felony criminal possession of a weapon.
Additionally, an item thought to have been an explosive device was located, but it turned out to be a hitch lock, according to his attorney Robert Singer. “He never presented any danger to anyone in this city building at all. I know there have been reports that he possessed a bomb. That’s false. That’s something the police disabused yesterday.”
On his way out of court Friday morning, Payne said, “There’s a massive embezzlement scheme going on in North Carolina and I was scared for my life, so I decided to come home and I had to protect myself so I felt that my life, my liberty, my pursuit of happiness is being taken away from the SAFE-ACT because people are threatening me down in North Carolina. Thank you.”
“Tim Payne I think is an American hero, but he needs help,” said his attorney John Schmidt, who along with the prosecutors and the judge agreed that Payne should be transferred from Niagara County Jail and placed in the psychiatric care of the Veterans Administration as soon as a bed becomes available. “He’s a good man. Let’s try to get him the help he needs before the Fourth of July.”
Along with the family members who turned out in court to support Payne, the Executive Pastor of Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church vouched for him. “My hope for Tim is that he gets the assistance he needs but also that people start to understand Tim a little better, said Pastor Mike Dwyer who recalled the year that he had undergone six bypass surgeries right before a church trip to Israel that Tim accompanied him on. “I was in pretty rough shape. I had just had it, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go over the mountains and hills of Israel and Tim said to me ‘I’ll carry you.” So that’s the kind of guy he is. he just needs some understanding.”
Authorities say a loaded pistol, two loaded military-style rifles and 400 rounds of ammunition were found in the vehicle.
Payne, who served in Afghanistan, lost his legs in an explosion. He founded Chosen Leadership, a veterans advocacy group.
Payne was transferred out of the Niagara County Jail on Friday afternoon. He is now receiving psychiatric care at a Veterans Administration facility.