AR-15 Raffle Winners Take Possession

CLEVELAND, May 29, 2017 - Some may remember last Tuesday as a miserable and stormy day, but the mood was jubilant and celebratory at Trinity Armory in Cleveland where owner Wally Wieghat, Pct. 4 Judge James Metts and Pct. 4 Constable Rowdy Hayden met with the winners of the AR-15 Raffle to fund Project Graduation for all three high schools in East Montgomery County. None of them could have imagined one of the excited winners would die less than one week later.

Wieghat, who is also the Splendora Police Chief, sold Judge Metts and Constable Hayden the first AR-15 at his cost, and agreed to handle the required federal background check. The gun would not leave the store until the winner was chosen and provided information allowing them to legally claim it. After the raffle was announced, someone contacted Houston television reporters claiming they were concerned the raffle might somehow endanger students, and the gun might be illegally transferred. Most people suspected the caller had political motives, but if they did, they were in for a major disappointment. The controversy that resulted from the allegations not only helped to quickly sell the raffle tickets, it prompted the gun’s manufacturer, KAB Arms, LLC of Spring, Texas, to donate a second identical AR-15 to help with their efforts. The raffle’s goal had been to raise $10,000, and they raised over $15,000.

Metts, Hayden, and Wieghat were thrilled to learn the two lucky winners of the drawing, a man and a woman, were not only Texas License to Carry (formerly CHL) holders, they were also both veterans.
Sandra Hall, of Cleveland, is a six-year US Army veteran who said she had been begging her husband to take her hunting for a while. When his coworker was selling the raffle tickets for the AR-15, Hall told her husband she wanted tickets. He was willing to make a deal.

Photo:  (left to right) Jack Wieghat, Judge James Metts, Sandra Hall, Dan Cantwell, Constable Rowdy Hayden, Chief Wally Wieghat

“He said, okay, I’ll let you buy two tickets, and if you win I’ll take you hunting, but you’re not going to win,” Hall said, smiling from ear to ear. “Now he’s got to take me hunting!”

The other winner was Vietnam veteran Dan Cantwell of New Caney. He said he was unsure how many tickets he purchased, since he didn’t purchase them all at once, but he knew it was more than two. Like Hall, Cantwell was happy to take possession of his big win. As for the controversy about who might wind up with the guns, Cantwell said people could rest easy because he passed the background check.

“I made it all the way through the sixties and have a clean record,” he joked.

Everyone posed and smiled for pictures, shook hands and parted ways after visiting for a bit. Unfortunately, Mr. Cantwell died unexpectedly yesterday. Judge Metts, Constable Hayden and Chief Wieghat were shocked and saddened to hear of Cantwell’s death.

“Dan Cantwell was a good man who was an asset to his community,” Judge Metts said. “The Bible teaches us that no man knows the day or the hour their time on this earth will end, but it doesn’t make it any easier when we have to deal with the loss of a loved one – especially when it’s unexpected. I know his family is devastated and I would ask everyone to keep them in prayer in the days and weeks to come as they adjust to life without him.”

Constable Hayden said Cantwell’s death was a tremendous loss to East Montgomery County.

“I was saddened to hear of Mr. Cantwell’s death,” he said. “It’s difficult to believe a few short days ago, we were laughing and talking at Trinity Armory, and now he’s gone. He was a good man who served his country as a soldier in Vietnam, and served his community in many ways after he returned home, right up until the end. My family and I will be praying for the Cantwell family, and we hope others will do the same.”

Like Judge Metts and Constable Hayden, Chief Wieghat said he was terribly sorry to hear the Dan Cantwell had died, noting he was “a really nice guy”.

“He was a fine individual,” Chief Wieghat said. “My condolences to the family. My prayers are with them, and may God give them peace.”

Dan Cantwell was not only a veteran, he was a Mason and a Shriner. Cantwell was the father of East Montgomery County Fire Department’s Captain Lonnie Cantwell, a commissioned Roman Forest Police Officer, who works as the Fire Code Officer for the City of Roman Forest. 

Roman Forest Police Chief Stephen Carlisle was also upset to learn of Cantwell’s death.

“Dan Cantwell was a great friend and mentor to me,” Chief Carlisle said. Some of his wisdom, advice, and mentorship over the years helped mold me into who I am today.”

“I am going to miss him deeply. He has truly left a great legacy in the family of community leaders he leaves behind,” Chief Carlisle said.

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