Judge Sentences Kewanee Man to 30 Days in Jail to Deter Others from Shooting People with an Orbeez Gun


A Kewanee man was sentenced to conditional discharge and jail time for shooting people, including children, with an orbeez gun, even though he has no criminal history.  Judge Hathaway said a sentence is needed to deter others from committing the same crime.  Alex Vandevoorde expressed sincere regret for his actions during his unsworn statement. Vandevoorde said, “I’m sorry to anybody I hurt.” He said he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, and he was sorry for wasting the court’s and everyone else’s time. “I regret what I did.” Alex Vandevoorde’s boss, stepfather, and mother testified that he is honest, hardworking, and dependable. His mother said she was surprised with his behavior in this incident.  She said she is proud of her son.

Assistant State’s Attorney Christakos said the state believes the defendant caused harm to people  “The Orbeez gun isn’t designed to be shot at people.” Vandevoorde doesn’t have a criminal history but the State said he has a prior history from his actions in high school.

Defense Attorney Bruce Carmen said, “That is some of the most outrageous things I’ve ever heard” in response to disciplinary actions from high school being used as criminal history.  Mr. Carmen said, “He is honest, hard-working, and reliable.” He said that Orbeez beads are very tiny, and there may be brief pain but no injury.  Mr. Carmen said there weren’t any victim statements submitted, and no victims appeared in person.

Assistant State’s Attorney Christakos said that Mr. Carmen is incorrect and there was a victim impact statement in the presentencing investigation report from the mother of the children hit with the orbeez beads.  “Regardless of how Mr. Carmen wishes to minimize his actions, he shot at children in their yard while they were playing.”

Judge Hathaway said this incident appears to be out of character for Mr. Vandevoorde, and he has support from his family.  Judge Hathaway said, “However, this is a very serious incident.”  He said the orbeez gun is not designed to cause harm, “but it can cause harm.”  Judge Hathaway said the victims were children and that it is dangerous to drive around while shooting orbeez beads at people.

Vandevoorde was charged with three counts of Aggravated Battery in a Public Place.  Vandevoorde opted to plead guilty to two of the counts of Aggravated Battery the morning before his jury trial began.  One of the aggravated battery charges was dismissed as part of the open plea agreement. Judge Colby Hathaway sentenced Alex Vandevoorde to 24 months of conditional discharge, 30 days in the Henry County Jail, day-for-day credit, credit for time served, a $250 fine, submit a DNA sample, maintain full-time employment, no contact with the victims or their residences, plus pay fines and assessments, for each of the aggravated gravity counts.  The jail sentences run concurrent with each other.  Vandevoorde is also not allowed to possess firearms or dangerous weapons. Judge Hathaway told Mr. Vandevoorde, “I hope you have learned from this” and that he hoped he doesn’t see the defendant in court again.  Judge Hathaway said that while this sounds like an isolated incident, it was a very serious incident.

The State requested a sentence of 30 months conditional discharge, a $1,000 fine, submit DNA, 90 days in jail, with day-for-day credit, credit for time served, 90 additional days in jail stayed pending compliance with the agreement, and no contact with the victims for each of the counts.  The Defense requested a sentence of 12 months of conditional discharge, the minimum fine, and community service.

The Kewanee Police Department was dispatched to Walmart for a report of individuals being shot from a vehicle as it was driving through the parking lot on April 11, 2023.  Walmart employees provided a license plate to the Kewanee Police, and the plate was registered to Alex Vandevoorde.  Alex Vandevoorde was identified as the subject shooting people with an Orbeez gun while he was driving his vehicle.  Police found an Orbeez gun in the back seat of the suspect vehicle, and Mr. Vandevoorde told police he was shooting at people as he was driving around.  Additionally, three children were shot on Vine Street while they were playing outside.  A fourth child was shot in the head at the Dollar Store parking lot.  All the people shot with the Orbeez gun had visible injuries, and four of the children were under the age of 10 years old.

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