Grand Forks man holds trespasser at gunpoint until police arrive
GRAND FORKS -- A Grand Forks man, surprised Sunday night by a strange man sitting in his Ford Bronco in his driveway with the motor running, held the stranger at gunpoint until police arrived and arrested him.
Guadalupe Cardona Suarez Jr., 35, Grand Forks, appeared in court Tuesday on a charge of unlawful entry into or concealment within a vehicle, a class C felony.
Police say it's an unusual charge in what is even a more uncommon incident of a homeowner wielding a weapon.
The owner of the late 1980s Ford Bronco, who lives near Ben Franklin Elementary School on the near south side, told the Herald what happened Sunday night. He asked that his name not be published.
"I guess about 10 o'clock, the dog started barking. My wife looked out the window and said, 'Why is your truck running?' I said, 'I don't know.' We walk outside and there's a guy sitting in the truck and he turns the lights on. Then I thought 'what the (heck) was going on here?' So, I went in and grabbed a pistol."
'Get down on the ground'
It was a 1911 model Colt .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun, one of several guns the man owns.
"I ran outside and told him to get out of the truck, and he didn't say anything. I told him to shut it off, and he didn't say anything. Finally, I told him to get out of the truck and get down on the ground, and he did."
The owner of the Bronco said the vehicle had been sitting unlocked in his driveway and the keys were in the ignition.
Meanwhile, the man's wife had called 911 and police arrived shortly.
When they arrived, Suarez was sitting on the steps of a nearby house and he was arrested, Sgt. Tom Laughlin said. Suarez told police he has epileptic seizures and didn't remember getting into the truck, Laughlin said.
Suarez, has several minor criminal convictions as well as an assault conviction and has spent a few short stretches in the local jail. He was released later Tuesday on bail from the Grand Forks County jail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 14, a jail spokesman said. The maximum penalty on a C felony is five years in prison.
The Bronco owner said Suarez didn't say much and acted strangely.
"He muttered a few things, said something about 'I have to move some cars,'" the Bronco's owner said. "I had never saw him before in my life. ... I asked his name several times; finally he told me ... Guadalupe."
He found out Suarez had been living nearby at a woman's home.
"I don't know what the deal was," the Bronco owner said. "It looked to me like the guy was flying high on something. His girlfriend stopped here (Monday) to kind of apologize and she claimed he had some kind of seizure."
Suarez never did or said anything threatening, the Bronco owner said.
"He just looked lost."
The man said he's lived in the same home for almost 40 years and never had an incident like this. It's also the first time he's ever pointed a gun at anyone, said the man. But he felt the need to protect his family and his property.
"I wanted to make sure the guy didn't drive my truck into the house or something. I stayed 10 feet away; you don't want to get too close. If he tried to get the gun away, somebody could have got shot."
It's very unusual to have a Grand Forks resident hold another at gunpoint, but the homeowner acted within his rights, Sgt. Laughlin said.
"I guess you could look at it as a citizen's arrest. He went out there to keep the guy there until we got there."
Because the man was on his own property, there was no violation of any law. North Dakota doesn't require registration of guns, Sgt. Laughlin said.
The homeowner said he knew the law and his rights.
"I was perfectly legal," he said. "I do have a handgun permit, had one for 20 years, and I've had the FBI (background) check and the whole nine yards. But they don't need to see that. It was my property, my premises. In North Dakota, you do not need a permit to carry a handgun, if you do not conceal it."