A 43-year-old man in Minneapolis could face up to seven years in prison for shooting a gay couple in the leg with a BB gun after getting involved in a homophobic altercation. The couple was visiting a bar named The Saloon in Minneapolis late September when the assaulter, Wayne Steven Odegard, entered the popular gay bar and started shouting homophobic comments and harassing people.
When the gay couple tried to defend themselves, the situation escalated and that is when Odegard took out a carbon-dioxide powered BB gun, aimed it at them and then shot both of them in the leg. When Odegard attempted to flee the scene after assaulting the couple, The Saloon’s security officer Tyler Erickson tracked him down a few yards away and called for the police.
“He told me multiple times that I'm going to go to hell and he's going to bring me with him,” said Erickson. “He recited a biblical passage — I think it's a Deuteronomy passage,” adding that the victims were from Brooklyn and Philadelphia. “They both joked that they came to progressive Minneapolis and got shot for being gay.”
In 2011, the Community Relations Service of the United States Justice Department met with various LGBT advocacy groups in Minnesota to discuss what needs to done after Chrissie Bates, a 45-year-old transgender, was stabbed to death in her Minneapolis apartment. Later that year, CeCe McDonald, another transgender, was attacked outside a tavern
in Minneapolis. Thereafter, the DOJ along with local law enforcement launched citywide LGBT outreach programs to better the relationship between police officials and LGBT individuals. However, as the recent incident has proven, prejudice and violence against LGBT individuals continues to remain an unfortunate reality across the nation.
If found guilty, Odegard could be charged with gun possession and second-degree assault and be fined up to $14,000 and sentenced with up to seven years in prison.
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