Gas thief defends man who pointed gun at him

/ Source: The Associated Press

A man pleading guilty to stealing gas and a car radiator offered words of support for the retired farmer who was charged with threatening him with a shotgun.

Kenneth Englund, 74, confronted Christian Harris Smith and a woman on Oct. 15 at a vacant farm near Englund’s home as Smith was taking gasoline from a vehicle, police said.

England chased the pair while calling the sheriff’s office on a mobile phone.

After the vehicles stopped and a deputy sheriff arrived, Englund’s shotgun was found to be unloaded, according to the criminal complaint.

A felony assault charge against Englund on Monday was reduced to two misdemeanors: pointing a gun at another person and disorderly conduct.

A judge sentenced Smith, 28, to 90 days in jail last week. As Smith entered his guilty plea, he defended Englund’s actions.

“I don’t think he should be held responsible for, you know, anything involving any of these issues,” Smith said. “I committed a crime and, you know, he did what he probably thought was right to ... resolve the situation.”

Smith said that in addition to paying restitution to the owner of the property, he would like to do “whatever I can” to help Englund, according to a court transcript.

Englund’s attorney, Brian Toder, said he will fight the reduced charges.

Englund did not point the shotgun at anybody, Toder said. “Even if he did, that’s reasonable force. He’s with a guy who he thought was a drug-crazed meth-head.”

Englund, a member of the Bradford Township Board, has received an outpouring of support in the community about 45 miles north of Minneapolis as well as from around the country.