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Old West Re-Enactor Faces Federal Weapons Charge

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A mock Old West gun battle participant accused of wounding three South Dakota tourists by firing live ammunition instead of blanks is facing a federal weapons charge, a U.S. Attorney’s office spokesman said Wednesday.

Paul Doering, 49, of Summerset, made an initial appearance in a federal court in Fargo, N.D., Wednesday morning on a felon in possession of a firearm charge, said Mark Salter, a U.S. Attorney’s office spokesman. Doering did not enter a plea.

Salter said an indictment issued last week was sealed by the federal court.

Three tourists were hit during the June 17 reenactment staged by the Dakota Wild Bunch, who use blanks when they perform several times a week on a street in Hill City, a tourist town in South Dakota’s Black Hills.

Doering is ordered to appear in federal court in Rapid City on Aug. 11 for an arraignment, Salter said.

The bullets that evening shattered a leg bone of Carrol Knutson, 65, of Birchwood, Minn.; hit the forearm and elbow of John Ellis, 48, an optometrist from South Connellsville, Penn.; and caused minor injuries to Jose Pruneda, 53, of Alliance, Neb.

The sheriff’s office submitted its investigative reports to the Pennington County state’s attorney’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s office, said chief deputy state’s attorney Lara Roetzel.

Investigators have not made any comments on why the incident happened or said whether they think the shootings were accidental.

But Roetzel said her office doesn’t have any intention of filing state charges against Doering.

Investigators earlier this month found that Doering had served more than five years in Minnesota prisons on multiple felony convictions.

South Dakota law prohibits a person convicted of a felony in South Dakota or another state from possessing or having control of a firearm for 15 years.

Federal law prevents felons convicted of crimes punishable by more than one year in prison from possessing any firearm or ammunition unless the person has had their civil rights restored by the state where they were convicted.

Doering was imprisoned from April 1982 to January 1984 on two first-degree assault charges, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

He returned to prison on Dec. 14, 1990 to serve time for second-degree burglary but was convicted of escape less than two months later, which extended his stay. He was released in May 1992. In October 2001, he began serving another sentence for escape, which was extended by a Dec. 2001 escape conviction. He got out in May 2004, according to the department.

No phone listing could be found for Doering, and attorney information was not immediately available.

The shootouts sponsored by the Hill City Chamber of Commerce have since been suspended.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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