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home : news : news   February 6, 2016

1/25/2013 2:53:00 AM
Man gets two months for shooting cyclist he thought was a skunk

Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter

OTTAWA — A Mendota man was sentenced Thursday to 60 days in jail and 2½ years’ probation for shooting the hand of a cyclist whom he mistook for a skunk.
Thomas A. Divan, 46, of 4481 N. Route 251 will report to La Salle County Jail at 6 p.m. Sunday and must surrender to authorities any weapons he owns along with his firearm owner’s ID card. Divan is not eligible for day-for-day credit while serving his two-month jail sentence.
Divan had pleaded guilty Dec. 13 to one count of reckless discharge of a firearm for shooting John Bowne of Mendota in the hand, causing permanent nerve damage to Bowne’s pinkie.
Divan could have faced 1-3 years in prison, but prosecutors agreed not to seek prison time in light of Divan’s near-spotless record.
Bowne was fortunate, too, as Divan appeared to have been aiming for his head. Authorities said Divan apparently mistook Bowne’s black-and-while cycling helmet for a skunk and then fired with a .22-caliber rifle.
Bowne told police he was repairing his bicycle in a ditch on Route 251 when he sustained a shot to the hand around 3:30 p.m. Sept. 30. He was treated and released from Mendota Community Hospital.
Police soon made contact with Divan, who admitted he had been drinking and to firing at what the thought was a skunk. Divan appeared to have seen only Bowne’s helmet above the lip of the ditch.
Thursday, when offered a chance to address Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr., Divan apologized to Bowne (not present in court) and offered to absorb any and all medical costs Bowne incurred.
Acknowledging that alcohol was a factor in the shooting, Divan said he had not consumed alcohol since the shooting and “I do not plan on drinking ever again.”
Assistant La Salle County state’s attorney Matt Kidder asked for 6 months in La Salle County Jail, citing the “profound effect” the shooting had on Bowne physically and emotionally.
Peru defense attorney Douglas Olivero asked Ryan to consider weekends in jail, emphasizing Divan’s clean record (two tickets for seat belt violations) as well as his full cooperation with police.
Ryan said he would opt for jail after considering that Divan’s response to a documented “skunk problem” in his neighborhood was to open fire.
“There are other ways to deal with a skunk problem,” the judge said, adding later, “When you consume alcohol and shoot a firearm, that’s a problem.”

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or

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