Cape Girardeau man arrested after firing gun at thieves

Published: Oct. 8, 2014 at 9:49 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 8, 2014 at 10:55 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A Cape Girardeau man is questioning city guns laws after he says he was arrested for trying to protect his home.

Police say Dustin Wern of Cape Girardeau is facing a misdemeanor for discharging a firearm within city limits.

It all started after Warn said he caught two men stealing car tires from his yard.

"You know I cracked one off," Wern said.

He said he fired a .45 caliber bullet from his carbine. Wern said his intent was not to kill, but rather to scare the would-be thieves.

"I didn't point it in their general direction, it was in the sky,” Wern said. “I just wanted to let them know I wasn't going to be a victim.”

Wern said when police arrived he identified himself as the shooter and laid down his weapon.

"I believe I conducted myself appropriately as far as coming out like I did, and being honest yeah I took the shot, here's my weapon," he said.

Regardless, police made the arrest, citing Wern for discharging a weapon in city limits.

say a person can only shoot a gun in defense of himself, a third person, or property.

So the question becomes, what qualifies a need for self-defense?

"It's usually pretty well defined. If somebody pulls a gun on you or pulls a knife on you or hits you with a club or something that's a deadly force issue," Tom Beardslee said.

As a firearms instructor Beardslee said in this case, firing a warning shot qualified as deadly force when deadly force may not have been necessary.

"Firing it in the air or in the ground does exhibit a level of force beyond what you can do to protect premises or property," Beardslee said.

For Wern, he said knowing what he knows now, he would not change a thing.

"I mean I could never see a weapon but, I mean, what do you do in that situation," Wern said.

Police say the thieves fled the scene and they are investigating.

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