MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities business owner’s attempt to stop a possible burglar landed him in jail.

Christopher Nicholas Kilburn is charged with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon. The 45-year-old Brooklyn Park resident bonded out of jail following a court appearance Thursday.

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According to court documents, Kilburn told police that on Tuesday morning he found his business in Brooklyn Park burglarized, and noticed one of his vehicles stolen.
He tracked it to the intersection of North Lowry and Dupont avenues in Minneapolis, with the apparent thief sitting in the driver seat.

Criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who isn’t connected the case, said you’re allowed to try to retrieve stolen property.

“A person in Minnesota is allowed to use force to get their property back, but it has to be reasonable force,” Tamburino said. “You can’t use deadly force. So for instance, you couldn’t kill someone because they stole your car.”

In the court documents, Kilburn told police he ordered the man out of the vehicle at gunpoint, physically removed him from the vehicle, then hit him in the head with the gun.

Christopher Kilburn (credit: Hennepin Co. Jail)

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When the man tried to run away, Kilburn told police he chased him and yelled “stop” before firing one shot at the man. Kilburn told police the man’s back was turned to him when he fired. After the man tripped and fell, Kilburn held him down and called 911. When officers arrived, they asked who had a gun. Kilburn raised his hand and an officer took the gun from his waistband. The man on the ground had a gash on his head and a gunshot wound to his hand. Kilburn was arrested.

“You should always call 911 before you react, and the reason for that is you don’t want to get into a situation where even though you’re using reasonable force right now, maybe it spirals out of control and you use force that could be excessive,” Tamburino said.

He says Minnesotans have a right to make a citizen’s arrest if they have reasonable evidence that a felony has occurred, even if they didn’t witness it happen.

“If [Kilburn] had the evidence, which it seems he does, that this alleged victim burglarized his business, yes, he can go and try to do a citizen’s arrest. But he has to only use reasonable force,” Tamburino said.

Locksmiths were at Kilburn’s office in Brooklyn Park Thursday afternoon, repairing what appeared to be a broken lock on the office door. A neighboring tenant in the building told WCCO that at least two businesses were broken into on Tuesday.

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It’s unclear if the man who was shot was arrested or is facing any charges.

Jeff Wagner