Law enforcement agencies ranging from the Richardson County Sheriff’s Office to the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security have for 11 days searched in vain for a dangerous gunman on the loose. The reason? There is no gunman.

    Richardson County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Nincehelser was arrested at about 1:30 p.m. today in Dawson and is now former sheriff’s deputy. He is locked up in jail, facing felony charges of criminal mischief and use of a firearm to commit a felony, as well as misdemeanor charges of false reporting, obstructing government operations and abuse of public records. His bond has been set at $50,000, 10 percent allowable ($45,000).

    Deputy Nincehelser, 25, of Humboldt, said he was on routine patrol at approximately 2 a.m. Monday, June 9, when he encountered a silver or tan Dodge Neon with no license plates stopped on 717 Road, approximately one-fourth of a mile west of Hwy. 75. Nincehelser said he approached the vehicle to ask the driver, a hispanic male, if he needed assistance. The driver, Nincehelser said, produced a silver semi-automatic pistol and fired at least three shots at the officer, hitting him in the bicep.

According to Sheriff Randy Houser, it was all a lie. Nincehelser has admitted to staging the entire story – from shooting himself in the arm, firing several shots into his patrol vehicle, and then falsely reporting to his dispatcher that he was chasing a fleeing vehicle.

Nincehelser spent a couple days in a Lincoln hospital and was supposed to return to active duty this week. Houser said authorities became suspicious of Nincehelser’s story when several items of physical evidence, processed by the Nebraska State Patrol, did not match the former deputy’s version of events.

He is set to be arraigned in County Court at 10 a.m.. Monday, July 14.

Just last summer, Houser recognized Nincehelser with a certificate of commendation.

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