Man faces possible charges after wounding attacker BY MARA H. GOTTFRIED Pioneer Press TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press Article Last Updated:05/09/2007 11:43:52 PM CDT Donald Hurd says he was just standing up for himself when he pulled a gun and fired after three young men attacked him and ran off with his wallet Tuesday night in St. Paul. One of his shots hit an 18-year-old robbery suspect, and now police say Hurd, a 68-year-old handyman from Bigfork, Minn., may have broken the law when he opened fire. Hurd initially told officers he didn't shoot his gun - a lie he later said he blurted out because he was scared. Officers arrested Hurd, not the robbery suspects. The 18-year-old was taken to Regions Hospital. Police said he was expected to survive the gunshot wound to his shoulder. On Wednesday, Hurd was locked up in the Ramsey County jail on suspicion of assault and facing possible charges. He said during an interview he was still shaken and unable to eat because "my stomach's full of knots." It was shortly before midnight Tuesday when Hurd stepped off a Metro Transit bus near Snelling and Como avenues and began walking to pick up another bus at a nearby stop. Hurd said the robbers approached silently and attacked him. "At first, I was shocked. I didn't know what was going on," said Hurd, an Army veteran and grandfather of three with no criminal record. "It dawned on me when I hit the ground. I thought they might kill me." Tuesday night wasn't a normal one for Hurd all around. He calls himself a jack-of-all-trades who often comes to the Twin Cities to do various jobs and usually doesn't ride Metro Transit buses. But he took the bus Tuesday because his pickup truck was being fixed. He said he normally doesn't carry much cash, but he had $350 in his pocket because he was going to pay for the repairs and get his truck. And he said he usually doesn't take a pistol with him, but he did that night because he wanted to be able to scare anyone off who might bother him about the money. "I read about crime in the paper every day," Hurd said. Hurd said he has had a gun permit in the past but wasn't sure whether it was still valid. Police said it wasn't known Wednesday whether Hurd had a permit to carry the gun. Hurd set out from downtown Minneapolis and got off the bus about 11:45 p.m. to transfer to another bus. Though there have been recent high-profile crime incidents on buses, Hurd said he felt safe on the bus itself, knowing Metro Transit had boosted security. The area where the robbery occurred is generally a quiet part of the city and isn't a focal point of Metro Transit police patrols, said Bob Gibbons, Metro Transit spokesman. Hurd noticed a group of young men near the bus stop, but he figured they were getting on the bus. He began walking under the Snelling Avenue bridge to a nearby bus stop, where he intended to board a bus to Roseville and wait until the repair shop opened so he could get his truck. Suddenly, the men he had seen at the bus stop were there and attacking him, Hurd said. "I was scared, frightened, mad - everything you can think of," he said. Hurd said he fired two shots in the air and one in the direction of the fleeing men, intending to scare them. He said he didn't know anyone had been hit. Hurd said he believed his actions were justified. "I couldn't let them go after what had happened to me," Hurd said. "I couldn't let them get away with it without trying to stop them. I was trying to defend myself." Hurd's wallet hasn't been found, Walsh said. Walsh said police are still investigating the robbery. He said the suspects - whose identities police know - could be charged. Self-defense cases usually revolve around victims protecting themselves during commission of a crime on their property. Hurd's case may not hinge on self-defense, said Earl Gray, a St. Paul criminal attorney who has not been retained in this case. Still, what Hurd did is "very defensible," Gray said. If someone is trying to make a citizen's arrest, which Gray said Hurd was doing by firing shots in the air and shouting at the robbers to stop, "reasonable force" can be used, according to state law. "If a felony is committed against you, you don't have to take that," Gray said. In 2001, a St. Paul shopkeeper was convicted of second-degree assault and sentenced to six months in the county workhouse for shooting a 15-year-old shoplifter in the back after the boy ran from the store. Mara H. Gottfried covers St. Paul public safety. She can be reached at [email protected] or 651-228-5262.