East Grand Forks man tried to shoot squirrel, charged after bullets hit neighbor's home

Dec. 9—EAST GRAND FORKS — Charges have been filed against a man from East Grand Forks after he tried to shoot a squirrel, but instead hit his neighbor's home.

Michael James Powers has been charged with felony discharge of a firearm within city limits and misdemeanor reckless handling of a weapon.

On Dec. 4, Justin Roue of the East Grand Forks Police Department was dispatched for possible bullet holes reported in the back of an East Grand Forks resident's house.

According to an affidavit in the case, the unnamed man told Roue he came home from work around 2 p.m. He and his wife went outside and found holes in the siding of the house as well as in the window of their son's bedroom. Inside the residence, they found broken glass and a bullet on the window ledge, so they called the police.

Roue examined the exterior west wall and found holes in the siding that seemed to be from bullets. He removed two .22 rounds from the siding with a pair of tweezers. The path of the bullet was angled and suggested it had come from the northwest, the affidavit says.

The bullet on the window ledge was also determined to be a .22 caliber round. Six rounds had struck the house — five in the siding and one in the window.

Officers also located two holes in a fence on the property which were consistent with bullet holes.

Powers, 76, was found next door. Officers informed him they were investigating a report of gunshots in the area. Powers told Roue he shot at a squirrel that was on top of his bird feeder and missed. He was shooting from his bedroom window. He told Roue this was not the first time he shot at squirrels on the bird feeder.

He said he shot two rounds between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. One of the rounds was a dud, according to Powers.

Powers said he had been shooting at the bird feeder for a couple of years and would go talk to "the other guy" to make it right.

Officers informed Powers one of the bullets had gone through a child's bedroom window. Powers was arrested for reckless discharge of a firearm.

Powers told his wife he was being arrested, and she said, "Well, I told you."

Powers gave law enforcement the gun he had used to shoot at the bird feeder — a .22 caliber rifle.

When Powers was brought to the East Grand Forks Police Department, he provided a statement. According to Powers, he was watching sports on television when he saw a red squirrel on his bird feeder.

"Well, that's war," Powers said.

He got his gun and put a shell in it. He opened the window and pulled the trigger. The shot was a dud. Powers put another shell in the gun and fired. He believed he hit the squirrel because it jumped off the bird feeder before running away.

He did not notice hitting anything and pulled the trigger twice that day. Only one bullet actually fired.

Powers said he had fired his gun from his bedroom on probably six occasions over the past two years.

He said he didn't hear any glass breaking or "anything unusual." Powers said he couldn't believe he was hitting the house that often, and if he had known he would have stopped. He said he knew he was wrong but was getting away with it, and he wasn't "out there with an AR-15."

For the felony charge, Powers could face a maximum of two years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The misdemeanor charge has a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Powers' initial appearance is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15.