SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — An Old West gunbattle re-enactor in South Dakota who wounded three spectators by firing real bullets instead of blanks has admitted hiding two handguns and ammunition after the incident, according to court documents.
Paul Doering, 49, of Summerset admitted in a plea agreement signed last week that he tampered with evidence after the June 17 shooting during a performance by the Dakota Wild Bunch in Hill City, a tourist town in South Dakota’s Black Hills.
The bullets shattered a leg bone of Carrol Knutson, 65, of Birchwood, Minn.; struck the forearm and elbow of John Ellis, 48, an optometrist from South Connellsville, Penn.; and caused minor injuries to Jose Pruneda, 53, of Alliance, Neb.
According to the court documents, Doering went around the street corner and emptied the guns of bullets after he saw that three people had been shot.
“When he returned to the street, he gave his guns to his girlfriends and told her to leave,” the documents say. “She did not leave, and the guns were recovered from them that same evening.”
Doering said he gave the guns to his girlfriend after the shootout because he is a convicted felon, according to the documents.
A grand jury indicted Doering in July on a charge of possessing a firearm as a felon.
Under federal law, felons convicted of crimes punishable by more than one year in prison can’t possess firearms or ammunition unless his civil rights have been restored by the state in which he was convicted.
Doering was imprisoned from April 1982 to January 1984 on two first-degree assault charges, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
He returned to prison Dec. 14, 1990, to serve time for second-degree burglary and was convicted of escape less than two months later, which extended his stay. He was released in May 1992. He began serving another sentence in October 2001 for escape, which was extended by a December 2001 escape conviction. He was released in May 2004, according to the department.
Mark Salter, a U.S. Attorney’s office spokesman, said he could not comment on the plea agreement but stressed that Doering could change his mind or the court could reject it.
A charge of tampering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
A lawyer for Doering did not respond to a phone message seeking comment.