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Sentencing ends Lake Oswego familys nightmare

Parents and their two children lived in fear after a neighbor fired shots into Westlake home
by:  Scott Ashby

A Lake Oswego family is no longer fearful of hearing gunshots in the night following the sentencing of the man who shot up their home.

Lake Oswego resident Scott Ashby, 33, was sentenced to 180 days in jail in a hearing at Clackamas County Court on Monday.

After hearing the facts of the case and the testimony of victims, Judge Douglas Van Dyk ruled to greatly in-crease the jail time for Ashby, who pled guilty to the crimes of unlawful use of a weapon and reckless endangerment. The original agreement was for 75 days in jail.

Lewis Burkhart, deputy district attorney for Clackamas County, said he was extremely gratified by the outcome.

'This family has lived in fear since December,' Burkhart said.

For Dr. Jozsef Lukacs, his wife Dr. Elizabeth Welsh and their two young children, the ruling ends an ordeal that began on Nov. 13 at 1 a.m. with just one shot in the night near their home on Rosalia Way.

'We have a quiet neighborhood,' Lukacs said. 'It sounded very loud. It did not belong in our neighborhood.'

Although they did call 9-1-1, Lukacs and Welsh did not follow up the disturbing incident because they were just about to depart on a trip.

But on Dec. 4, again very early in the morning as they were preparing for a trip, Welsh heard three shots ring out. The discovery of what had happened filled them with shock and fear.

'We asked, 'What are these holes doing in our playroom wall?'' Lukacs said. 'We put two and two together and found they were bullet holes.'

Welsh said, 'When I first saw the holes I asked, 'Honey, what's going on?' I thought there was something terribly amiss in the home improvement world. You live here and you never think that bullets will be fired into your home.'

Two bullets were found in the floor. One bullet went so deeply into a heavy oak TV cabinet that it could not be retrieved. The most disturbing fact was that their 10-year-old son was sleeping just inches away from where one of the bullets had hit. Two more bullet holes were found on the outside wall.

The bullet that crashed into the TV cabinet penetrated at head level, and it hit just 10 minutes after Welsh had left the room.

'It could've penetrated her skull while she was packing,' Lukacs said. 'The thought occurred to me that maybe she was targeted.'

The Lake Oswego Police soon identified a suspect - Ashby. He lived just 30 feet away with a view that looked directly down at their home. Forensics tests proved that the shots had to have come from the balcony of the place where Ashby lived. The Clackamas County DA's office worked hard to make a solid case.

For Lukacs it was a long, long wait. His children were fearful of entering their own playroom. Much of their house became off limits to them.

'It was a living hell,' Lukacs said. 'We were waiting anxiously for the charges to be made.'

Things did not get any better even after a warrant was served on Ashby in February. His bail of $10,000 was soon paid and he immediately returned to his home. No more shots were heard, but ammo was found on their lawn. Instead of using bullets, Ashby shouted threats laced with obscenities from his balcony.

Fortunately, Burkhart was assigned to the case.

'He was extremely helpful in putting the thing together and making it stick,' said Lukacs. 'What a guy! He's going places.'

Meanwhile, Lukacs, Welsh, their son, and 6-year-old daughter prepared for the hearing before Judge Van Dyk, all writing victims statements. The one by the boy, now 11 years old, had great impact.

'It got everyone's attention,' Lukacs said. 'It was amazing to hear how much this had done to him. It was scarily insightful.'

The judge thought so. He looked at Ashby and said, 'I will not tolerate this.'

'His letter was powerful. Kids explain things very simply,' Welsh said.

Besides incarceration, Ashby received other strict penalties. He has to immediately leave the place where he was living, he will go on three years probation, undergo mental health counseling, and comply with treatment for alcoholism. He must not use firearms for three years.

As for Lukacs and his family, maybe they can rediscover what normal life is like.

'Perhaps we can live in peace now,' Lukacs said.

'The main thing is for our children to be safe,' Welsh said. 'It was hard to realize we didn't have the power to do that, even when we've worked as hard as we have to get where we are.'