Old West re-enactor faces federal weapons charge

July 27, 2011 - 4:14 PM

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — A mock Old West gun battle participant accused of wounding three South Dakota tourists by firing live ammunition instead of blanks is facing a federal weapons charge, a U.S. Attorney's office spokesman said Wednesday.

Paul Doering, 49, of Summerset, made an initial appearance in a federal court in Fargo, N.D., Wednesday morning on a felon in possession of a firearm charge, said Mark Salter, a U.S. Attorney's office spokesman. Doering did not enter a plea.

Salter said an indictment issued last week was sealed by the federal court.

Three tourists were hit during the June 17 reenactment staged by the Dakota Wild Bunch, who use blanks when they perform several times a week on a street in the tourist town of Hill City.

Doering is ordered to appear in federal court in Rapid City on Aug. 11 for an arraignment, Salter said.

The bullets that evening shattered a leg bone of Carrol Knutson, 65, of Birchwood, Minn.; hit the forearm and elbow of John Ellis, 48, an optometrist from South Connellsville, Penn.; and caused minor injuries to Jose Pruneda, 53, of Alliance, Neb.

Investigators have not made any comments on why the incident happened or said whether they think the shootings were accidental.

Investigators earlier this month found that Doering had served more than five years in Minnesota prisons on multiple felony convictions.

South Dakota law says that a person convicted of a felony in South Dakota or another state cannot possess or have control of a firearm for 15 years.

Federal law prevents felons convicted of crimes punishable by more than one year in prison from possessing any firearm or ammunition unless the person has had their civil rights restored by the state where they were convicted.