SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — An Old West gunbattle re-enactor never meant for anyone to get hurt when he accidentally fired real bullets instead of blanks last summer, his lawyer said Thursday.

But three people were injured, and now Paul Doering of Summerset faces up to 20 years in prison after entering a plea deal in federal court.

“I can tell you definitively that Paul feels very terribly that people were hurt as a result of his actions,” said Neil Fulton, federal public defender for South Dakota and North Dakota. “He’s very, very sorry.”

Doering, 49, is to be sentenced April 9. He pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Rapid City to a newly leveled charge of tampering. In exchange, prosecutors dropped the original charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Doering and other re-enactors were supposed to feign a shootout by firing blanks in a mock Old West battle. Investigators have said Doering somehow ended up firing live ammunition.

The bullets shattered a leg bone of Carrol Knutson, 65, of Minnesota; hit the forearm and elbow of John Ellis, 48, of Pennsylvania; and caused minor injuries to Jose Pruneda, 53, of Nebraska.

“It was an accidental shooting,” Fulton said. Doering wasn’t supposed to have firearms because he has previously been convicted of a felony. Doering had previously served several prison stints on assault, burglary and escape charges.

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’s convictions were in Minnesota.

After the shootout, Doering hid .45- and .22-caliber weapons and ammunition, resulting in the tampering charge, Fulton said.

The mock shootouts between lawmen and outlaws in western South Dakota near the Black Hills have been held in the rural town for decades and was sponsored by the Hill City Chamber of Commerce.

The Dakota Wild Bunch had been performing the show for about four years. The show has since been suspended.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (14)
  1. RIII says:

    What is a “Gun Show Re-Enactor”? Does any one proof read?

  2. Holding the keys up North says:

    Another case of not doing background checks. Blanks or not, he wasn’t supposed to be in possession of. He knew he did wrong and had that “oh s***” feeling and that is why he hid the weapons and ammo!

  3. kevin says:

    This old feeble minded idiot needs to be put away for a very, very long time. Only a imbecilic boob would have let this occur. Dumb A**!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. jeff jensen says:

    my mom’s cousins, uncles, brothers stepsons wife was one of the ones shot by the idiot. hang him.

    1. Deep Thinker says:

      Oh my God, I think we are related, I am the brother of your mom’s cousins, uncles, brothers stepsons wife…what a small world we live in

  5. blaim says:

    …prosecutors dropped the original charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm…. why did they do this… make fellons realize having a gun is wrong. This federal charge carries 19 years and no getting out early. Slap on the wrist once this is all done with. Maybe a year or so …ha ha ha….

  6. Dale Gribble says:

    Your 2nd Amendment rights are at risk!! Stand up against tyrrany!! Stop gun control!

    1. ???? says:

      You’re off your game Dale. This story has nothing to do with 2nd Amendment rights.

      1. Dale Gribble says:

        You don’t think so? This is another example of how the Obama administration manipulates events to discredit gun owners in order to further his agenda of gun control and one-world government.

        1. Deep Thinker says:

          Gee, and I thought the story was about an individual who can’t seem to take responsibility for his actions

          1. Dale Gribble says:

            You’ve either been brainwashed by the liberal media or you’re in on the conspiracy. Either a dullard or a stooge.

            1. Everything is a Conspiracy When You Are A Nut Job says:

              Gribble Gribblle, tried to pea but could only dribble…

    2. Oh. Is That So says:

      I think we can all blame Obama for this one, hell it’s Obamas fault that I am overweight & can’t find a job..

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