Saturday, December 17, 2005

La Plata County, Colorado

From the Durango Herald of December 17, 2005
Man shot in struggle for shotgun

A La Plata County man was in serious condition Friday at Mercy Medical Center after being shot point-blank with a 12-gauge shotgun.

The 12:03 a.m. Friday shooting, La Plata County Sheriff's spokesman Dan Bender said, occurred four miles north of Bayfield in the 4000 block of County Road 501.

Bender explained the incident:

Andrew Williamson was at home, sleeping, when knocks on the door jerked him awake.

The 24-year-old reached for a shotgun for home defense. He then cracked open the front door, peeked outside, and spotted two shadowy figures - in a night too dark to identify.

So Williamson reached for a light switch. As he did, one man burst through the front door and grabbed for the gun.

A struggle ensued, with both men falling to the floor. That's when another man, Jesse Handley, 21, entered the house.

Watching a "tug-of-war" for the shotgun, Handley tried to break up the fight. While doing so, Bender said, the gun accidentally fired.

"There were several hands on the shotgun because they were struggling back-and-fourth with it," Bender said. "It hasn't been determined whose finger was on the trigger."

Bender identified the man shot as the intruder, Jason Egger, 31, of La Plata County.

Shot once in the right side, Egger was taken by ambulance to Mercy.

What prompted the late-night visit? That's a question investigators were still trying to resolve Friday. By day's end, Bender said, sheriff's investigators learned this:

Earlier, on Thursday evening, Williamson reported to police that an unknown man at the Billygoat Saloon in Gem Village was calling him, making harassing and threatening statements.

Egger had Williamson's phone number as a way to contact Williamson's estranged wife. But even though the estranged wife was not at the house that night, Egger headed there anyway.

He and Williamson apparently did not know each other before the struggle.

Investigators are waiting for Egger's condition to improve before interviewing him, Bender said.

No arrests have been made.

"It appears Williamson was in his own home and was assailed by a subject, and he was defending himself," Bender said.

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