Possible mental health evaluation for accused shooter

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CYNTHIANA, Ky. (WTVQ) – A man accused of shooting at a utility company helicopter and Harrison County sheriff’s deputies may undergo a mental health evaluation before his next court appearance, according to court officials. 

Investigators captured Thomas VanMeter last month after a lengthy manhunt in the White Oak Pike area of Harrison County.

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On September 11, deputies went to check on VanMeter at the request of a relative.  Investigators say that’s when he shot at a helicopter contracted to Kentucky Utilities.  No one was hit and the pilot was able to safely land.  Deputies say VanMeter then shot at them.  No one was hit or injured.  They say that’s when VanMeter ran off, which led to the manhunt.  He was captured the next day. 

VanMeter was indicted by a Harrison County Grand Jury on eight counts of attempted murder, including attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. 

He pleaded not guilty to all charges on Tuesday and waived his right to a formal arraignment, according to court records. 

He’s due back in court December 5 for a pre-trial hearing.  

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.