St. Paul, Minnesota

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press of May 9, 2007

Man, 68, arrested after teenager shot near St. Paul bus stop

A 68-year-old man who told police three teenagers robbed him on a St. Paul street Tuesday night shot one of the men, police say, but officers are still trying to sort through what happened.

The 18-year-old victim was shot in the shoulder and taken to Regions Hospital, said Tom Walsh, a police spokesman. He said the man is expected to survive.

Officers arrested Donald W. Hurd on suspicion of felony assault, but Walsh said it’s unlikely he’ll be charged.

Police were called to Como and Snelling avenues about 11:40 p.m. Tuesday on a report of a man yelling he had been shot, Walsh said.

Hurd was there and told police he didn’t have a gun and no shots had been fired, but officers found a gun on Hurd, Walsh said. They also found the victim nearby.

The four people involved had been riding a Metro Transit bus, but it’s unclear whether they were riding together, Walsh said. They all got off at Como and Snelling avenues, Walsh said.

Hurd said the three teenagers pushed the back of his head, knocked him to the ground and took his wallet, Walsh said. Police are investigating the robbery and the teenagers have not been arrested.

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press of May 11, 2007

Mugging victim leaves jail with nowhere to go

Man who shot one of 3 attackers could still face charges

After spending two nights in the Ramsey County jail, Donald Hurd walked out Thursday with no wallet, no cash and nowhere to go.

The 68-year-old man was mugged Tuesday night in St. Paul, and officers arrested him after he shot one of the suspected robbers.

Hurd was taking the bus Tuesday to pick up his Chevrolet truck from a repair shop and was attacked between stops. On Thursday, he made it to the Roseville shop, but his truck wasn’t ready.

The Bigfork, Minn., man thought the jailers would return $100 in cash the robbers hadn’t found. He was going to use it to stay in a motel Thursday night. As it turns out, when the jail returns inmates’ property, they trade cash for a check. Hurd didn’t know what good a check would do him because his driver’s license had been stolen.

“I don’t like to ask for help,” said Hurd, who is retired but comes to the Twin Cities to do odd jobs. He is divorced, and his family lives out of state. “If you get into a situation, it’s up to you to get out of it.”

Hurd’s problems might not be over. Though he was released from jail, he could yet face criminal charges.

He might be a hero in the court of public opinion, but whether Hurd broke the law is a different story.

Hurd said he was only trying to scare the three young men who attacked him. Legal experts said Hurd’s case doesn’t seem to meet the self-defense standard in Minnesota. The 18-year-old man who Hurd shot in the shoulder is expected to be fine, police said.

You would think somewhere between the letter of the law, there’s some space there for some consideration and understanding,” Hurd said. “It is an injustice.”

The robbery suspects weren’t arrested. The investigation into the robbery and the shooting continues, police said.

Hurd was born in St. Paul and raised in San Francisco. He came back to St. Paul when he was 15, after his mother was killed in a car accident, and he lived with his father.

On his 17th birthday, Hurd enlisted in the Army and worked as a military police officer. He was stationed in Germany, what is now Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

After leaving the Army, Hurd returned to Minnesota, where he and his wife raised a family. He worked different jobs over the years – driving trucks and school buses, working as a plumber and an electrician, and being a security guard.

He’s a quiet man and said he’s embarrassed by the attention his case has received. He said he would have done the same thing if he came across someone in his situation.

“I would give up myself to destroy evil,” he said Thursday. “It’s just the way I am.”

Hurd doesn’t have a criminal history, but he acknowledged some problems with the way he handled things Tuesday night. He lied to police at first about the shooting, which he said he did because he was scared and confused. He doesn’t have a permit to carry the pistol he had with him.

If he could go back to when he fired his gun Tuesday and change things, he’s not sure he would.

“God only knows,” Hurd said. “I don’t want to say yes and I don’t want to say no because you have a different frame of mind in that situation. I felt like I was violated. You look for some justice for yourself.”

State Rep. Tony Cornish, who sponsored a bill this legislative session to give citizens more leeway in using deadly force to defend themselves, said he was outraged by what happened to Hurd.

“Maybe if these scumbags that were beating and robbing our old people had some doubt in their mind if they were going to survive their own crime, they would have some doubt about committing it in the first place,” said Cornish, R-Good Thunder.

Cornish’s bill, which he called “Stand Your Ground” legislation, didn’t get a committee hearing. Though it might not have applied directly in Hurd’s case, Cornish said, the law would have offered clarity about when and how citizens can defend themselves.

Current Minnesota law says it’s justifiable to kill someone if you are “resisting or preventing an offense” that you “reasonably” believe could lead to “great bodily harm or death” for you or another person. If you are in your own home, deadly force can be used to prevent someone from committing a felony.

Even so, local attorneys think an argument could be made for Hurd’s actions. If he is charged and the case goes to a jury, he’ll likely come across as a sympathetic figure, they said.

“These aren’t cases prosecutors like to take to juries,” said Richard Frase, a University of Minnesota law professor.

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