Pinned down with no weapon while camping

This is a discussion on Pinned down with no weapon while camping within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/art...471f5f724ee253 Witness to BWCAW shooting spree recounts harrowing night John Myers Duluth News Tribune Published Wednesday, September 19, 2007 The abusive, swearing, gun-firing men in ...

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Thread: Pinned down with no weapon while camping

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    VIP Member Array paramedic70002's Avatar
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    Pinned down with no weapon while camping

    http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/art...471f5f724ee253

    Witness to BWCAW shooting spree recounts harrowing night
    John Myers Duluth News Tribune
    Published Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    The abusive, swearing, gun-firing men in the motorboat had been gone nearly an hour. Emmerich Koller had almost fallen asleep in his tent at the Basswood Lake campsite.

    “My son woke me up saying he heard another boat. I immediately thought they were coming back for us,’’ Koller said in a phone interview Tuesday from his home in northern Illinois.

    In the pristine, usually peaceful Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where people go to relax and recharge, Koller said he ran for his life.

    He grabbed a duffel bag and ordered his 11-year-old son, Andrew, and 26-year-old daughter, Marina, to go with him into the woods. They hid about 30 yards from their campsite as two motorboats pulled up on the rocky shore.

    “We could hear the boats scraping up on the rocks. I thought they were coming to kill us,’’ Koller said. “I’m convinced, because they seemed out of their minds with rage, that they would do serious damage to us.’’

    For the next 45 minutes the men rummaged through the Illinois family’s belongings, making fun of their freeze-dried food and mummy-style sleeping bags, all the while hurling obscenities, Koller said.

    “They described in vivid detail how they were going to kill me and how they were going to rape my daughter for hours,’’ Koller said. “They were very upset we weren’t there.’’

    By then the Kollers had moved another 25 yards into the thick woods, hoping to avoid being seen.

    Koller said he told his story to the News Tribune on Tuesday to remove any doubts about the seriousness of the Aug. 7 incident. His family was among dozens of campers in the Basswood Lake area that night when men firing hundreds of rounds from semi-automatic weapons and fireworks motored up and down the lake.

    A Waseca, Minn., family last month told the News Tribune about how the armed men that night stopped in front of their Basswood Lake campsite and fired round after round from their guns, forcing the family to duck and run for cover, hiding in the woods.

    But the Kollers had perhaps the closest contact and most harrowing experience with the heavily armed men.

    “I’ve seen the term harassment [used to describe the incident]. This wasn’t harassment, it was terrorism,” Koller said. “They said they were going to kill us. I keep having this ‘Deliverance’ moment, from the movie. … I don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t hidden. ... But I think the deputies would have found corpses.’’

    First contact

    Emmerich Koller was on his third trip to the BWCAW with his daughter. It was his son’s first. They were camped along a narrow portion of Basswood Lake, across from the gauging station used to house equipment that measures water levels.

    On a warm, still night, the family had heard volleys of distant gunshots for more than an hour when a boat motored into the narrows and went to the opposite shore about 10 p.m., just 100 yards across the water from their campsite.

    Koller now says he should have kept quiet and out of sight. But he was angry at the gunfire and motor noise and wanted the men to move on.

    “I wanted to hear the loons, not them. … I turned on my flashlight and the swearing started immediately. All I said was ‘Nice language. What’s your problem?’ and that set them off even more,’’ Koller said.

    The men fired a fireworks mortar above the Kollers’ campsite.

    “I’ve never heard swearing like that. I’m 64 years old and I’ve heard a lot,’’ Koller said.

    Marina Koller yelled out from the tent, asking the men to ‘please leave us alone. We don’t want any trouble,’ ’’ Emmerich Koller said. The sound of a woman’s voice changed the focus of the men’s obscenities.

    “They immediately started swearing about what they could do to her and us,’’ he said.

    To the Kollers’ surprise the men, after about an hour at the gauging station where police now say they did considerable vandalism, got back in their boat and motored away.

    Koller said he thought the incident was over and didn’t think to call 911 on his cell phone — until the men came back, this time with more friends, a second boat and more guns.

    Stayed hidden

    Koller, who had fled the tent with no shirt or shoes, was getting bitten by mosquitoes. But he harbored no thoughts of coming out of hiding.

    “We huddled as best we could. My daughter was trembling and clutching on to me. My son handled it pretty well for an 11-year-old,’’ said Koller, a native of Hungary who lived through both Nazi and communist threats. “I’ve known danger … but I’ve never been through anything like this. This was so personal toward us. … They navigated that lake in the dark and came right back to where we were.’’

    Even when the men left, the family remained silent and hidden for another 15 minutes.

    Only then did Koller, a retired teacher, use his cell phone to dial 911. To his surprise, a dispatcher answered. Cell phone coverage is limited in the BWCAW, and the Kollers had been warned not to depend on it in an emergency.

    “I tried to whisper because I thought they [the men with guns] might have left someone behind at the campsite. But she [the dispatcher] couldn’t hear me, so I said, ‘Well, here we go,’ and I talked louder. … At first she didn’t believe me about the guns,’’ Koller said.

    Authorities determined where the Kollers were by asking them to check the campsite number on the site’s latrine.

    The Kollers were the first of three groups who used cell phones that night to call authorities to report the shooting spree. They were later credited with allowing police to figure out the men’s route out of the BWCAW that led to the arrest of five men and a juvenile at the Fall Lake boat landing early Aug. 8.

    The charges

    Lake County District Attorney Russ Conrow announced Monday that 79 charges, many of them felonies, have been filed against five Ely men for the shooting spree. A juvenile boy also has been cited.

    According to the criminal complaint, the men brought cases of beer, a bottle of schnapps, mortar-like fireworks, a Russian-style, semi-automatic assault rifle, a .45-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun, a .22-caliber handgun and a .22 rifle into the wilderness for their evening boat ride.

    The men said they made the trip to have some fun, not to fish or camp.

    According to eyewitnesses and the criminal complaints:

    Starting at sunset and for the next three hours the men motored about the lake in two boats, including into Canada, and fired hundreds of rounds from their guns. They also fired several large fireworks shells. According to the complaint, in videotaped statements made to law enforcement officers the morning after the shooting, four of the Ely men — Zachary Ross Barton, 19; Travis John Erzar, 20; Casey James Fenske, 19; and Jay Andrew Olson, 19 — admitted to taking part in the spree.

    A fifth man arrested at the landing, Barney James Lakner, 37, apparently has not made a statement to police. He has been charged with 13 felonies and 12 other crimes. Lakner was arrested wearing a knit cap with fake dreadlocks and with a .45-caliber handgun and several clips. Lakner has been cited for alcohol-related crimes in the past and was charged with operating a snowmobile in the BWCAW.

    Federal charges are pending in the case, and it’s possible the men will faces firearms charges in Canada.

    Nightmares

    Koller and his family tried to sleep after relaying their story to the 911 dispatcher. But his daughter woke up screaming that the men were coming back, even though they weren’t.

    The next morning a float plane carrying U.S. Forest Service police officers and Lake County deputies landed and taxied to their campsite. The Kollers gave oral and written statements, and several other groups of campers paddled to the campsite to tell their tales from the night before.

    Authorities told the Kollers that they never would have arrested the men if not for their cell phone call to 911.

    Several campers in the area left the BWCAW the next morning. The Kollers had planned to break camp and go home, but another camper offered to show them a nice campsite and urged them not to leave because of the incident.

    “We knew they had arrested the men and we felt a little better. So we moved to a new campsite and stayed another four nights,’’ Koller said. “This man was very persuasive that we not let this ruin’’ how the family felt about the Boundary Waters.

    But the incident is not fading from their memories.

    “My son still has nightmares. In one of the nightmares, his mother [who was not on the trip] is with us and walks out of the tent and gets shot,’’ Koller said. “I still think the Boundary Waters is a paradise. … But I have to say that, if these guys don’t get their punishment they deserve for this, I will never go back again.’’
    "Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18

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  3. #2
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    Nasty story, glad the families came out OK...

    Sounds like those 'dirtbags' are in a heap of touble, perhaps they won't see the outside world for a long time!
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    The moral of the story is when going camping bring guns...not only for 4 legged predators but the worst of the kind....2 legged ones.

    Somebody launches bullets into my campsight from a boat...I will be launching some back.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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    Lots of people are totally crazy these days.
    Value placed on innocent human life has taken a nosedive with a much greater percentage of the US population.
    Stay armed and stay alive.
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

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    Member Array GrizzlyAdams's Avatar
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    I've been camping/canoeing up there before for a week. Beautiful countryside, shame some idiots had to ruin a familys experience up there.

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    Distinguished Member Array Bob The Great's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    The moral of the story is when going camping bring guns...not only for 4 legged predators but the worst of the kind....2 legged ones.

    Somebody launches bullets into my campsight from a boat...I will be launching some back.
    Agreed. If I have to confront someone in the woods at night, there will be a handgun on my hip and a rifle behind my leg. In this case, I don't think I would have confronted the boaters at all, though.
    "A well-educated electorate, being necessary to the continuance of a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed."
    Is this hard to understand? Then why does it get unintelligible to some people when 5 little words are changed?

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    I was gonna post this story but have had a very busy weekend at work and hadn't gotten the chance to do it so I'm glad someone else did. This has been big news around here lately and I hope these guys get nailed to the wall for what they did. I can tell you if it had been me up there at one of those campsites that they decided to terrorize there would have been an exchange of gunfire. I also know from a reliable source that there was an off duty LEO camping in the same area with his family. He was armed and had they decided to make a stop at his campsite they would have had an unpleasant surprise, although for the LEO's sake I'm glad they didn't. Here a link to the criminal complaint that was filed in court against one of the guys. It's pretty long but if you read through the interviews you get a good picture of how stupid these guys are.

    http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1431272.html
    "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."

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    I think its safe to assume alcohol or drugs are involved, I will never understand why its "fun" to terrorize a family like that.
    I hope they get whacked in Canada, and when they are done up there, they come back to get whacked in the states.
    I'm sure the favor will be returned once they are in prison.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    Member Array Npete7381's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    I think its safe to assume alcohol or drugs are involved, I will never understand why its "fun" to terrorize a family like that.
    I hope they get whacked in Canada, and when they are done up there, they come back to get whacked in the states.
    I'm sure the favor will be returned once they are in prison.
    There was alcohol involved although when they were arrested at on their return trip to Fall Lake they all got a PBT and if I remember correctly from reading through the criminal complaint only the juvenile was over .08
    "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."

    -- Robert A. Heinlein

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    Mountain lions and two legged vermin. The very reason I carry a 44 titanium snub nose and soon a collapsible M1 carbine when I backpack or camp. The man was smart to move his family into the woods and wait it out. It would have been a little more comforting if he was armed.

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    A 30-06 and deep cover would have made this turn out alot different
    do what you can with what you have where you are at (theodore roosevelt)

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    Distinguished Member Array BCurry1's Avatar
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    How crazy, I was just there in July. Its a wonderful place, leave to the dirtbags to ruin a great place like the boundary waters.
    Curry

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    Distinguished Member Array Colin's Avatar
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    Which is why I am getting a Berretta Storm carbine in .40cal. Even a 10/22 would have helped in this case, knowing that you could respond if you had to.

    My wife will use the Storm and I will use the 590, that should deal with most threats.

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    VIP Member Array SIGguy229's Avatar
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    Was this in a National Park? I don't believe it because guns aren't allowed in National Parks

    Again--police didn't show up for almost 1/2 a day...this man and his family should have been permitted to carry their firearms (if they had any) for self defense.
    Magazine <> clip - know the difference

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    two words. flare gun.

    target acquisition FTW.

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