A 15-year-old boy who was determined to be rid of his braces pulled a gun on an orthodontist and told him he didn't care about going to jail, "as long as I can have my bands off," the doctor said today.
Police eventually disarmed the boy after a struggle in which two shots were fired into the floor.
The orthodontist, who was not the boy's regular dentist, said he stalled the teen-ager during the incident by removing a few of the bands and a wire that ringed his teeth. The boy was not identified because of his age.
The orthodontist, Norman Carstens, said the boy had apparently asked other dentists in the suburban Detroit area to remove his braces before visiting Carstens' office on Feb. 8. "He [came] in to see me and said he wanted them off. I said he wasn't finished with his treatment and I couldn't take them off without a letter from his parents and his regular orthodontist . . .
"I had him in the chair and he leaned over and pulled the gun out of his pocket and said, 'Would this make you change your mind?' and I said, 'Yes,' " Carstens said.
Carstens said he told the youth he would not take off the braces at gunpoint, so the youth put the gun in his lap.
"The next thing I said was 'Is this gun loaded?' -- really loud. The girl at the front desk heard that and kind of leaned over and saw what was happening," Carstens said.
The orthodontist's business manager called the police while the doctor tried to talk the youth into giving up the .45-caliber pistol, which police said belonged to the boy's late father.
"I said they put people in jail for assault with a deadly weapon. He said, 'If I have to go to jail, as long as I can have my bands off, I don't care.' "
Carstens then began working, continuing his attempts to talk the youth into changing his mind.
When police arrived, they signaled by ringing the telephone at the front desk. "I told this young man to rinse out and I'd be right back," Carstens said. "The moment I opened the back door, there were four policemen. "About two minutes later it was bam! bam!"
While grappling with detectives, the youth squeezed the trigger of his gun and a shot hit the floor, Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Director Jack Patterson said.
The youth was taken to the state Hawthorne Center for psychiatric evaluation, then released to his mother's custody, Patterson said.
Patterson said today that his department had petitioned juvenile court to charge the teen-ager with felonious assault.
"I feel sorry for the kid because he needs help, and I hope he gets it," said Carstens.