Sirens & Gavels

Man jailed after odd encounter with infant

A man prohibited from possessing firearms was arrested with a gun in a Spokane cemetery last weekend after confessing his love to a baby and asking if he could be her "Uncle Bob," police say.

The child's mother was at the Fairmount Cemetery, 5200 W. Wellesley Ave., with her infant daughter and a friend when a man with two dogs approached, rubbed her shoulder and picked up the baby from her stroller without permission, according to court documents.

The suspect, later identified as Robert F. Asterino, Jr., 46, held the child for several minutes before becoming distracted by a couple approaching with their own dogs, according to police. When he bent over to place the baby back in her stroller, the woman observed the handle of a handgun in his waistband. He also had a beer bottle in his front pocket, she told police.

The woman's friend said she was frightened "and did not feel she could tell him to put the baby down due to his large size, his strange demeanor and the fact that he had been drinking," according to court documents.

Spokane police used a search warrant to recover from Asterino's 1968 Chevy pickup a 9mm glock with 16 rounds in the magazine, as well as an extra bullet. He was jailed on a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm, which was later dismissed. 

This story has been updated from its published version. A reference to an earlier felony conviction in New Mexico was deleted after Asterino provided evidence that the charge had been reduced to a petty misdemeanor. Also, information of the dismissal of the firearm charge was added. 

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