SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - An Iraq war veteran who waved a gun and an American flag on a Highway 101 overpass and stopped traffic for hours in Santa Barbara last month has been ordered by a judge to stay away from Tom Cruise.
Edward Van Tassel, 28, with help from his sister, has appeared at Cruise's Beverly Hills home three times with hopes of delivering a letter, authorities said.
The order came at a Wednesday hearing where prosecutors were trying to have Van Tassel's bail revoked for leaving a veterans facility where Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge George Eskin believed he would be locked in.
A private investigator who works for Cruise told Eskin that Van Tassel was in a different veterans facility than the judge had expected, one where he could leave freely. The judge did not immediately rule on revoking bail, but said he was leaning toward having Van Tassel returned to jail.
"I certainly did not envision a situation that would enable him to come and go as he pleased," the judge said. "The V.A. let him down, the family let him down and we let him down," Eskin said. "Well, I did."
Van Tassel's attorney Robert Landheer told the judge the visits to the Cruise home were harmless.
"He is not there to stalk Mr. Cruise as some sort of fan-obsessed person," Landheer said. "He wants to enlist him in his mission to get appropriate remedies for soldiers of the Iraq War."
Van Tassel is charged with several weapons violations stemming from the Nov. 3 freeway episode, when he could be seen on live television wearing a mask and holding a gun. He froze traffic on the highway for more than three hours.
He has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to exhibit a firearm in the presence of an officer, resisting arrest and other charges.
Information from: Santa Barbara News-Press, http://www.newspress.com