It was a frightening situation that riveted the village of Chase one April afternoon: a man walked into the local bank, told staff to get out and said, "I'm going to blow this place up."
He was reportedly armed with a knife, a gun and a bomb.
While all the employees were safely evacuated, surrounding buildings and homes had to be cleared out, the downtown shut down and nervous residents hovered around the police perimeter.
After a six-hour standoff, the man emerged, taunting police to shoot him. Upon his arrest, the handgun turned out to be a pellet gun and the bomb some batteries, elastic bands and a wire.
But the incident rattled residents, one of them telling The Daily News at the time, "I've never seen anything like this happen here."
Given the circumstances, we might have expected the judge to throw the book at John Leblanc when case wound through the courts, but it didn't turn out like that.
During the trial, we learned of Leblanc's heartbreakingly sad life — when he was three, his father left, his stepdad abused him, he ended up in a reform school known for sexual abuse, his mother died giving birth and his sister hanged herself.
He spent his life drifting across the country, a loner who battled the demons of booze and drugs, and hit bottom that April day, resorting to an extreme act in a cry for help.
His lawyer, Chris Thompson, criticized the province for devoting numerous resources toward helping "native offenders" but leaving people like Leblanc to spin in the wind and took it upon himself to try to find housing for Leblanc, who received a conditional sentence of 12 months on Thursday, with two years probation to follow.
Thanks to his lawyer's efforts, he will serve his sentence at John Howard Society's Lighthouse building — transition housing where rent includes utilities, furniture and household goods, with community support workers on site every day and programs that aim to enhance life skills.
The wheels of justice can be seen doing little more than rolling over those who fall under their tread and spitting them into prison, but a case like this shows there are people with a pulse that give the system a beating heart.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by editor Robert Koopmans, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, news editor Mike Cornell or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.