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Thief supports farmer who chased him with shotgun

Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, Minn. — A retired farmer who was charged with felony assault for wielding a shotgun near a gasoline thief got support from the thief as he pleaded guilty to stealing gas and a car radiator.

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

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

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

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The charge against Englund on Monday was reduced to two misdemeanors, pointing a gun at another person and disorderly conduct.

Smith, 28, was sentenced to 90 days in jail last week by Isanti District Judge James Dehn. As Smith entered his guilty plea, he spoke out in support of Englund.

"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."

According to a court transcript, Smith said that, in addition to paying restitution to the owner of the property, he would like to do "whatever I can" to benefit Englund.

Attorney Brian Toder, who is representing Englund, said he will fight the reduced charges.

Englund brandished his shotgun but did not point it 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 his community — where there has been an increase in property crimes — and from around the country.

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