A man who pointed what turned out to be a toy gun at KNBC-TV consumer reporter David Horowitz during a live broadcast last August pleaded guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor false imprisonment.
In exchange for dismissing two felony counts against Gary Stollman, Pasadena Superior Court Judge Jack B. Tso placed him on three years' probation with the condition that he continue receiving psychiatric treatment.
Stollman, 34, has been living in an undisclosed mental facility in the San Fernando Valley, but has been free to come and go, Deputy Dist. Atty. Barbara G. Murphy said.
Three psychiatrists wrote letters to the court, saying that Stollman is not a danger to society as long as he gets care, Murphy said.
Horowitz pronounced himself satisfied with the plea bargain and said he had played a major role in fashioning the agreement.
"Obviously, this person needs some help," the television reporter said. "Sending him to state prison, or to a mental hospital, is not going to solve the problems. . . . What you want to do is try to turn things around."
Horowitz was just beginning his report last Aug. 19, when Stollman appeared behind him, nudged him with the weapon and demanded that he read a rambling statement on the air about the Central Intelligence Agency and space aliens.
Within 30 seconds, the station ceased broadcasting.
Criticize News Director
Horowitz and others later criticized KNBC new director Tom Capra for seemingly putting the reporter's life at risk by cutting off the program. No one was hurt in the incident.
Stollman, the son of former KNBC pharmaceutical reporter Max Stollman, had gained entry to the studio by mentioning his father.
He was originally charged with felony false imprisonment and commercial burglary and faced a possible three-year sentence, Murphy said.
Last October, the Mental Health Department of the Superior Court determined that Stollman is gravely disabled as a result of a mental disorder and appointed his mother as his conservator. Murphy said he was ordered at that time to get psychiatric help.
Could Be Penalized
Prosecutors said that if Stollman discontinues his psychiatric treatment, he will be in violation of his probation and could be penalized by the court.
Horowitz said he "lost a lot of sleep for a lot of months" as a result of the incident, but noted that the case also had a "positive" effect, by calling attention to the dangers of toy guns.
Several cities--including Los Angeles and Burbank--have outlawed the sale of toy guns, and a similar bill, passed by the state Senate, is pending in the Assembly.