88-year-old woman charged after pointing pellet rifle at utility workers, officers

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Credit: Alamance Co. Sheriff’s Office / Times-News

ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — Police have charged a woman after she allegedly threatened utility workers and law enforcement officers with a pellet rifle.

Onilas Lee Simpson, 88, of Burlington, was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer.

According to police, Simpson was threatening to shoot contract utility workers in front of her residence shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday.

According to the Times-News, the workers were contracted through AT&T and were laying underground cable in the public right of way.

Officers responded to the 800-block of N.C. 87 North and Simpson continued to point the weapon and threaten the workers. Simpson also allegedly pointed the weapon at deputies during the altercation.

When deputies challenged Simpson with their duty weapons, she dropped her weapon and was taken into custody. The weapon was seized and found to be a pellet rifle.

An investigation revealed that the woman had allegedly verbally threatened the utility workers the previous week, indicating that if they came back they would be shot.

Simpson was processed and released on a $5,000 bond, pending her first court appearance.

There were no injuries as a result of the incident.


  • Mark

    “Onilas Lee Simpson, 88, of Burlington, was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer.”

    Really!?! Did the police really feel threatened by a little old lady with a BB gun? They should be ashamed. I noticed they weren’t named in the article. I guess they were scared of that, too.

    • SAL

      I am a concealed carry permit holder. If anyone would point a gun at me they would die. Pellet guns look just like real bullet firing guns. She is just lucky that the cops didn’t fire on her. It matters not whether she is a frail old lady or a teenager, when you point a gun at someone you better be ready to dodge return fire. Besides the newer pellet guns fire pellets almost as fast and as deadly as a .22! You could EASILY kill someone with a pellet gun!

      • PeopleEatingTastyAnimals = PETA

        You make some valid points, but CC permit or not, there will be an investigation with any shooting. A judge and jury may not agree with your opinions.

      • SAL

        PETA, you are right there would be an investigation with any CC shooting and a judge or jury would have the final say. But at the end of the day I am alive and the old lady or whoever is DEAD.

        DEAD is DEAD…ALIVE and in jail is still ALIVE

      • JT

        Wait, let me get this straight…you are admitting, in a public forum, that you are perfectly fine with shooting and killing an 88 year-old woman who may have mental problems BECAUSE SHE POINTED A BB GUN AT YOU?!? Wonder how that would play out in court, tough guy…

      • Mark

        You’re a real tough guy, Sal, hiding behind your guns against an 88 year old lady. I’m sure your momma is soooo proud.

    • ech

      We start by letting age become a factor. Before you know it, transgender folk are winning crossfit games.

    • Mr perfect

      Mark your stupid comments reflect what small amount if any intelligence that you have. How would you react to a gun pointed at you smart as? Could you define in a split second before they pull the trigger what type of weapon they’re holding? Let alone before it’s fired at you? Stop and think before you leave comments like this dumb dumb.

  • David

    A weapon is a weapon. Whether it’s a .177 pellet gun, a .22, .223.12 gauge, rock, 2×4, frying pan etc. The old bat should be thanking her maker.

  • nurse one

    I agree she should not have threatened anyone. But, if she had dementia, maybe she should be placed in a facility that can deal with that. Same as those younger ones with mental issues we see so much.

  • Fay

    If a four year old can pull a trigger an 88 year old can,,,but having said that, the crew that had been threatened last week when it was reported to the company,,the company should have gotten in touch with her or her children before sending anyone back out there,,,I’m betting this is her first time in jail,,,

    • nurse one

      Dementia? Alzheimers? Maybe we should know the whole story? Maybe she was just a mean old lady. If so, pay the price as anyone else would.

  • concerned gun owner

    Just saw it on news…I am in the law field and under state law a bb rifle isnt a deadly weapon or a firearm..not to say what she did is right but i may have to go see the warrant in the morning something dont smell right..

    • chucky

      That was what I was noticed when I first saw the story. The magistrate should have caught that. I expect that the District Attorney will end up reducing the charge if not dismissing it. It doesn’t matter what people think, a BB gun doesn’t fit the state’s definition of a “Deadly Weapon”.

  • concerned gun owner

    Never said it doesnt hurt..but by state law a bb gun isnt a deadly weapon and not a firearm..if it was i think walmart would be out of business by now for selling deadly weapons to kids..bb guns..pellet guns and airsoft are all the same by the state law..that why you cant be charged with ccw for a bb gun not considered a weapon.

    • Scarfoot

      Yes but, at a distance, can you tell without a doubt as to what kind of weapon a person is holding? At 20 feet, I don’t think I’d have a problem but at 150 to 200 feet, I don’t think I could tell the difference between a pellet rifle and a .22. More than anything, it is probably the threat and failure to obey a lawful order given by the officers to lower the weapon for which she was arrested. Also, there are other charges that can be filed for which a person can be arrested, such as terroristic threatening which is used primarily for phone calls but can apply to physical confrontation with any type of weapon including BB guns. You all may think I’m stupid and that’s fine, but there are laws and they are there for a purpose. The best thing you can do is try to avoid the confrontation by leaving the area (if possible) rather than challenging an irate and irrational person for the public right of way.

      • Scarfoot

        And yes, I can tell the difference between slingshots, knives, crossbows, and firearms. Just not necessarily the difference in firearms from a distance.

  • concerned gun owner

    Yes other charges could be made but the ones they choose are wrong..its the same as if deputy saw you with a bar of soap and thought it was cocaine but after he arrests you and finds out it is soap…but he still chargew you with cocaine because he thought it was..you can only charge what you have not what you thought you had

  • sinnerfrank

    Put the ole bag down, she is a threat to herself and others!! If it had been an old man, he would have been shot no doubt,maybe she has some cash or property to leave the kids !!

    • concerned gun owner

      Well i got a look at the warrants..some how a bb rifle became a ..and i quote…a long gun a firearm..can you say crooked..looks like somebody made up some charges again in alamance county..i hope she gets a good attorney and sues the hell out of them…a bb gun is in no way a firearm..sounds like they had no charge and made one up..wonder which magistrate signed off on these charges.

Comments are closed.