An Albemarle County man with no criminal history appears on his way out of jail after four months behind bars for firing bullets into the air after an early-summer argument with some strangers in a Pizza Hut parking lot.
The attorney for 28-year-old Jalen Elexander Cobbs said that her client regrets what he did.
“This was a categorically stupid move on his part, and he has paid a very high price for it,” said Cobbs’ public defender Alexandra Heilbronner.
Heilbronner and Cobbs were in court Tuesday to agree to the terms of a plea agreement approved by retired Judge Melvin Hughes.
“Did he know these individuals?” asked Hughes.
“He did not, your honor,” Heilbronner replied.
Prosecutor Richard Farley of the Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office concurred. Farley said that the evidence showed that on the afternoon of June 25 Cobbs was heading into his workplace at the Pizza Hut in the 29th Place shopping center north of Charlottesville. On his way inside, Farley said, Cobbs got into a verbal altercation with the occupants of a car.
“The defendant believed he saw one of the occupants of the car with a gun and pulled out his own gun and began firing,” said Farley. “Not at the car but over the car in an effort to scare them off.”
No one was hurt in the incident, and Heilbronner noted that her client readily gave a statement to police when he was found later that afternoon. The criminal complaint indicates that Cobbs showed officers his 9mm Glock 19 pistol and two magazines, one that holds 17 rounds and another that hold 22 rounds.
In the small upstairs courtroom of the Albemarle County Circuit Court, Cobbs wore thick-rimmed glasses with his hair closely trimmed on the sides. He appeared serious and straightforward as he answered the judge’s questions but was not asked to offer a statement.
Cobbs pleaded guilty to shooting at a vehicle as well as carrying a concealed weapon. The agreement calls for a three-year term on the shooting with all but four months suspended, which is approximately how long Cobbs has been jailed. The weapons charge also brought three years but with all time suspended. Two misdemeanor charges were dropped.
The plea agreement demands five years of good behavior on both convictions and bans Cobbs from 29th Place unless he gets rehired by Pizza Hut.