RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — An Old West gun battle re-enactor who wounded three onlookers when he fired live rounds instead of blanks at a South Dakota show was sentenced Monday to seven and a half years in prison.
Paul Doering, 49, of Summerset made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a tampering charge in January. In exchange, prosecutors dropped the original charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He had faced up to 20 years in prison for the tampering charge.
Doering and other re-enactors were supposed to feign a shootout by firing blanks during the June 17 mock Old West battle in Hill City. Investigators 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.
Federal public defender Neil Fulton, who represented Doering, had said the shooting was an accident and that Doering was sorry.
Doering wasn’t supposed to have firearms because he has previously been convicted of a felony. He had 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.
Fulton said that after the shootout, Doering hid the weapons and ammunition, resulting in the tampering charge.
The mock shootouts between lawmen and outlaws have been held for decades in the rural town near the Black Hills. The event is 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.
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