Shawn Howell


A man already facing felony offenses in Platte and Colfax counties recently racked up additional offenses in Butler County after allegedly threatening to harm two attorneys and a seated judge.

Shawn M. Howell, 53, of Schuyler, recently pleaded and was found guilty in Colfax County District Court of attempted possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, a Class II felony. The firearm-related charge is connected to the October 2019 shootout in rural Schuyler that led to the hospitalization of two men who sustained what were presumed to be shotgun wounds.

He faces charges of intimidation, disturbing the peace, stalking, third-degree assault and making terroristic threats throughout two Platte County Court case files.

The defendant prior to his most recent charges was already being held in Butler County Jail in relation to the gun offense, as Colfax County doesn’t have its own holding facility. But now he does face charges in the county he’s being held and is incarcerated on a $250,000 bond handed down by Lancaster County Court Judge Thomas Zimmerman, who is presiding over the case.

According to a warrantless arrest affidavit, Howell now faces three new charges of making terroristic threats associated with alleged comments made about Butler County Court Judge C. Jo Petersen (who presides over Boone, Butler, Colfax, Hamilton, Merrick, Nance, Platte, Polk, Saunders, Seward, and York counties); Colfax County Attorney Denise Kracl and Platte County Deputy Attorney Elizabeth Lay. The offenses constitute Class IIIA felonies and under state law, Howell faces up to three years imprisonment and 18 months of post-release supervision on each charge.

In December 2019, court records show a Butler County Sheriff’s Office sergeant was approached by Butler County’s jail administrator in reference to a taped visitation session at the facility between the defendant and his wife.

At one point in the alleged conversation – laced with profanity, sexual references and other obscenities – the defendant notes how if he gets out of jail that he’s going to cause severe harm to several people.

“They know that I am going to get out and kill everybody, that’s why, that’s what I told them, I told them I am going to kill every f****** one of them, the judge, everybody, everybody’s getting it,” Howell reportedly said, then allegedly making a motion as if he were cutting his neck at the end of the statement while continuing to say “kill them.”

Howell then allegedly told his wife to focus on three people: Elizabeth May (determined to be Lay), C. Jo Petersen and Denise Kracl. At one point, court records show Howell mentioned how at one point in time, he had the judge in the scope of his rifle; he allegedly went on to add that he was going to “F****** sock that prosecutor right out of her f****** chair, right across her jaw.”

In other portions of the affidavit, it states Howell reportedly said he has already killed five people with his bare hand, threatens to send people after at least one of the women (Petersen, Kracl and Lay) to hurt them and adds that Butler, Colfax and Platte counties aren’t going to win against him.

“I don’t give a f*** about the law anymore,” Howell allegedly said. “Hell, I’m just going to break the f****** law, like everyone else. I don’t even care anymore, I don’t care."

The defendant is scheduled to appear in Butler County Court at 2 p.m. Jan. 17, Platte County Court for two cases on Jan. 23 and sentencing for the gun-related charge in Colfax County at 1 p.m. Feb. 19.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

News Editor

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and The Banner-Press newspapers. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015.

Load comments