Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 1, 2013

Jail inmate found with 'shanks'

TRAVERSE CITY — A Grand Traverse County jail inmate was found with makeshift “shank”-style weapons he intended use against two fellow inmates who accused him of stealing colored pencils, authorities said.

Juan Jose Gonzalez, 34, faces a felony possession of a weapon in jail charge and his long criminal history could land him a lifetime stint in prison. Jail officers confiscated the weapons Oct. 16 after receiving an inmate’s tip.

“I would say this is unusual. We don’t see too many cases where somebody has a weapon,” said Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney. “... It’s uncommon to have these sort of problems in our jail, thankfully.”

The police report states jail officers found Gonzalez in possession of a comb sharpened into a knife after an inmate tipped them off. Another tip in the form of an anonymous note that stated “he dropped it in the hall” led to a toothbrush shank, along with video surveillance footage showing Gonzalez dropping it in the hallway.

Gonzalez, who was jailed on a parole detainer, told investigators he used the comb piece as a coffee stirrer and “occasionally to pick his teeth with,” the report states. He said he found the toothbrush shank in his cell, but admitted he rubbed it against the jail wall to sharpen it to a point.

An inmate told investigators Gonzalez planned to use the knives to kill two of his cell mates by stabbing them in the neck while they slept. The report states Gonzalez had a confrontation with the cell mates after they accused him of stealing some colored pencils.

Gonzalez also was charged as a fourth-offense habitual offender because of past breaking and entering and drug possession convictions. A conviction could lead to a life sentence.

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