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Ottertail man shoots neighbor during alleged home break-in

Paul Brandt, at his Ottertail home, where he shot a neighbor with a handgun. Brandt believes the neighbor was attempting to break in to burglarize his house, and possibly assault him.

While allegedly attempting to break into a residence in the Ottertail mobile home court, 18-year-old Koal Timothy Shamp was shot in the hip by the resident of the home.

Shamp's injury was considered minor and he was treated and released from the hospital.

At 12:37 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a burglary in progress at the trailer park. Paul F. Brandt, 46, Ottertail, reported that two suspects were attempting to break into his residence at 104 Park Circle.

"I know these people and why they're trying to break in," said Brandt in an interview Thursday, referring to the two suspects as "punk thug criminals." Brandt believes they were "trying to come in and hurt me bad."

According to the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office report, Brandt fired one round through a window at one of the suspects. Brandt reported that the gun used was his .380 caliber handgun. As soon as he started shooting, Brandt said the suspects took off running frantically.

Accounts of the situation are conflicting and varied, which is why investigators were in and out of the neighborhood almost constantly over a 24-hour period, questioning neighbors and witnesses in an effort to sort out the confusion.

The two suspects live next door to Brandt, and have also worked for Brandt on several occasions.

Brandt operates a lawn care business. Brandt himself acknowledged that the two suspects were at his kitchen table earlier in the evening--socializing. The two left the Brandt residence at about 9:30 p.m., and the shooting occurred about three hours later.

What transpired as the evening progressed is unclear. The second suspect, 20-year-old Michael Ray Eric Thomas Mason, said in an interview that he and Shamp were only walking past Brandt's kitchen window when the shot was fired. Brandt, however, contends they were attempting to pry open the window.

Brandt said that he was planning to hire them the next day to assist with a landscaping job he had in Detroit Lakes.

"I tried to be a father figure for them," said Brandt, who described the suspects as "neighborhood troublemakers." He suspects they may have been involved in other incidents of burglary and vandalism in the Ottertail area.

"I was trying to rehabilitate them, that was my thinking--help them learn to work for their money," said Brandt, explaining his reasons for planning to hire the two the following day--which would have been Thursday, Sept. 24. "I don't know what caused them to do this (attempt to break in)."

Brandt believes the pair may have been responsible for an attempt to break into his house a few months ago. In that incident, Brandt alleges someone unsuccessfully attempted to break down his door in the middle of the night.

Ever since then, Brandt has been readying himself for another home invasion. "I'm an Eagle Scout," he explains. "Their motto is to be prepared. I've been sitting up almost every night for the last 90 days with a loaded handgun. I've been prepared."

Brandt tells how he sits at his table into the early hours of the morning drinking coffee, gun at his side. He was awake when the two suspects arrived at his home, after midnight on Sept. 24. He heard them trying to get into his kitchen window and ran to get his gun.

Ten minutes after Brandt called in the burglary in progress, the OTC Sheriff's Office received a call from an individual stating that a person had been shot. The injured party, Koal Timothy Shamp, was transported to Perham Memorial Hospital and treated for a shot to the hip. Shamp was later released.

Shamp and Mason were arrested on suspicion of burglary. OTC Sheriff's Office reports indicate Shamp will be charged with burglary. But Mason's charge was later amended to disorderly conduct. Mason also goes by the first name "Cody."

"Why would we try to burglarize a house that we know there are people in?" said Mason, interviewed in his yard, which is less than 20 yards from Brandt's front door." Mason contends that Brandt "always thinks people are out to get him" and further, that Brandt essentially overreacted to a situation that was not a burglary.

"I don't just go around shooting people for no reason," said Brandt, who has not been arrested or charged with any crime.

Brandt is a self-professed advocate against all types of crime. He has lived in the Ottertail trailer court for the past two and a half years, and is a former Perham resident. Brandt is known locally as the owner of Paul's Lawn Service, a mowing and landscaping business.

"I have a feeling this is just the beginning of my troubles with these kids," Brandt said after his chaotic Thursday morning. "I'm kind of living in fear."

For now, Brandt is trying to get some rest after the stress of the incident. He was up until 6 a.m. Thursday morning speaking with investigators and deputies who responded to the scene. He's also thankful for his vigilance, which he believes protected him in this home invasion incident.

"I managed to put that one round into his buttocks," Brandt says, adding how he is thankful he didn't kill anyone. "I'd feel so bad to take someone's life, but I'm glad I got him in the butt."

Though the situation leading up to the shooting, and the relationship between Brandt and his neighbors Mason and Shamp, may be unclear--there are a few certain facts:

---The two suspects were definitely on Brandt's property, without permission, at the time the shooting occurred. (Brandt rents the house from his mother.)

---There was enough evidence for the sheriff's department to bring a burglary charge against Shamp.

---Charges against Mason were reduced from an initial suspicion of burglary, to disorderly conduct.

---Brandt has a bullet hole through his kitchen window.

---Suspect Mason has a bullet wound on his rear end.

The conclusion of the story is pending in the courts.