More stupid gun tricks: Yesterday, a man who owns a piece of property along Missouri's Meramec River, was pissed off when a guy on a casual canoe trip pissed in the woods behind "his" gravel bar. He then threatened the urinater with a gun. When the urinater's cousin tried to get between him and the property owner, the property owner shot the cousin in the head and killed him.
News reports note that "ownership" of gravel bars along the river is often a murky deal. Nonetheless, the shooter took the law into his own hands and killed an innocent person. Did he think he had the right to protect "his" property by killing someone? Did the Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin killing influence him? We don't know.
The law isn't clear. And here's the kicker, [as reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch] :
A lawyer from Ozark, Mo., Harry Styron, has researched extensively the topic of property rights along streams and rivers.See UPDATED info after the squiggle:
“These cases are really very confusing. They are difficult to interpret,” Styron said. “You are on private property, but you have a right to be there if it’s a navigable stream and as long as you are on a gravel bar that is submerged during parts of the year, because it’s part of the stream bed.”
The property issues can be hard to sort out, he said. But either way, he said, “it obviously doesn’t have anything to do with people shooting people. We don’t have a stand-your-gravel-bar law yet.”
2:48 PM PT: UPDATE: In response to commenters who correctly pointed out the inaccuracies in my post, I have altered the headline, plus, I'm adding some additional, clarifying info. Also, I apologize for taking so long to do this.
The person who was shot was not, as I erroneously stated, the urinater. He was the urinater's cousin. Well, rather than try to explain it and get it wrong again, I'll just blockquote the story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Loretta Dart [the wife of the dead man] said they stopped at the gravel bar before 2 p.m. but weren’t there long before Crocker [the property owner] confronted them with a gun, starting with her cousin who went to urinate. The man said they were on private property and to get out. He waved his gun around and fired it in the air and into the ground near Paul Dart and her cousin, Loretta Dart said.
Crocker told a detective that men were yelling at him “stating that they weren’t going to leave and that the gravel bar was public property,” court records say.
At one point, Crocker told Kling, “I have the power here. I have the power,” Kling said.
Kling said, “Put that gun down and we’ll see who has the power,” according to Loretta Dart. Kling, 24, of Robertsville, said he and his stepfather were trying to reason with the man.
Then, Loretta Dart said, her cousin picked up a rock. (Crocker told police the man had a rock in each hand.) Her husband stood between her cousin and the gunman.
“My husband tried to calm the guy down,” Loretta Dart said. “He went to the guy’s arm to try to stop him, but the guy jerked back and popped him in the face.”
Crocker told police the shooting came as the culmination of a dispute over whether the group was trespassing or not, and he fired after a man approached him with rocks in his hands. Paul Dart wasn’t the one with the rocks.
“I just shot the one closest to me,” Crocker said, according to police.
Authorities on Sunday charged Crocker with second-degree murder. He was being held Monday in lieu of $650,000 bail at the Crawford County Jail.