Last week, a man broke into an auto shop in Des Moines, Iowa, and started stealing equipment. The shop owner grabbed a gun and confronted him. During that confrontation, the owner fired a warning shot into the ground. That round ricocheted and hit the suspect in the head, killing him. After an investigation, no charges will be filed against the shop owner.
The Des Moines Register reports that on Wednesday morning last week, 67-year-old Thomas Kraft woke up to see a notification on his phone from his alarm system that somebody had broken into his shop, Kraft 5 Star Muffler. When he watched security footage on his phone, he saw an intruder and a pickup truck at the shop at around 4:45 a.m.
Kraft saw the CCTV footage in real time at around 7 a.m., nobody was in the shop. When he drove over to the shop to ascertain what was going on, however, he encountered 37-year-old Amund Benjamin Haarstad inside. In addition, a pickup truck—later determined to be stolen—was parked nearby with over $50,000 worth of tools and equipment.
The Warning Shot
A confrontation ensued between the two men, during which Haarstad allegedly threatened to kill Kraft. Kraft went and grabbed a handgun he keeps in his office. When he returned to the front body shop area of the store, Haarstad was still there.
That’s when Kraft fired a round into the ground, which prompted Haarstad to take off.
Before dialing 911, Kraft went outside to see which way Haarstad went. When he turned the corner of the building, he once again ran into Haarstad.
Kraft fired another warning shot into the ground. This time, however, the round ricocheted and hit Haarstad in the head.
CCTV footage shows Haarstad running outside the auto shop before falling face-first onto the ground at around 7:15 a.m. No gunfire is visible, but photos taken outside the shop confirm that a warning shot had been fired at the location.
Kraft was taken to the hospital and gave an interview to police the next day.
“Tom was in acute medical distress at the time of this incident,” Kraft’s lawyer, Mark Weinhardt, said in a statement. “In the last three months he has had cancer surgery, had a cardiac stent inserted, and has lost significant weight. His heart was racing at the time and he was extremely anxious.”
Weinhardt added that Haarstad threatened to kill Kraft again outside the store before the shooting. He also said Kraft believed Haarstad had a weapon in his hand. Police later said he was unarmed.
After investigating, police and the Polk County Attorney’s Office have determined that the shooting was justified under the state’s Stand Your Ground law.
Haarstad’s family is crying foul, stating that this isn’t a Stand Your Ground case.
“If you know somebody is in there and you walk in armed and you shoot them in the head, that is absolutely premeditated,” Haarstad’s sister told KCCI.
Weinhardt disagrees with that assessment.
“Tom did not intend to kill or injure the burglar,” he said. “Tom shot at the ground many feet away from the burglar.”
Haarstad, who has a son and daughter, had a history of drug addiction. His sister claims he didn’t have a history of violence. Yet a quick internet search reveals a prior felony domestic assault conviction after he swung a vice grip with a screwdriver inside it at a man in 2016.
Haarstad’s sister, Addaleigh Delgado, told the Des Moines Register that her brother had recently gotten a job and an apartment, but had relapsed in the days and weeks leading up to the burglary.
“We don’t condone that behavior at all,” Delgado said of the burglary. “We just want people to know he is not a monster.”
Des Moines police Sgt. Paul Parizek said the shooting should be a warning to bad guys out there.
“You never know when you’re going to pick the wrong business and you’re going to encounter the wrong business (owner) that’s got their heels dug in,” he said. “They’re going to protect their property and themselves, and this is the type of thing that may happen.”
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