A Middleton man who was charged with shooting two men outside a South Park Street restaurant last year was sentenced Thursday to five years of probation for illegal gun possession.

Tyreese M. Howard, 25, was also sentenced by Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke to concurrent terms of probation for four counts of criminal damage to property and one count of obstructing police, all related to an early morning incident on May 22, 2016, outside La Hacienda restaurant, 515 S. Park St., in which two men were wounded and six cars were damaged by gunfire.

Charges of first-degree reckless endangerment against Howard for shooting the men were dismissed in October as part of a plea agreement. Assistant District Attorney Bryce Pierson said that it was a situation where "self-defense is quite apparent."

State Assistant Public Defender Jon Helland said that one of the men who was shot threatened Howard with a gun that turned out to be a facsimile. The man had fired shots at Howard's aunt's home three years earlier, Helland said. Howard, who was armed despite having been previously adjudicated as delinquent in a prior juvenile case, "had to decide what to do with a clear aggressor," Helland said.

Helland and Pierson both asked Ehlke to place Howard on probation for five years, but Pierson asked additionally that Howard receive a three-year prison sentence that would be withheld in favor of probation, so that he would immediately go to prison if he committed a new crime. Ehlke did not impose that.

Howard said he's "going to work on being a better person and bettering myself" after apologizing for his actions. Ehlke urged him not to pick up a gun again, which as an adult felon would be illegal for him to do, and said he didn't want to see Howard sitting in front of him again facing any new charges.

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Ed Treleven is the courts reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.