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Man found guilty of pointing shotgun at 15-year-old co-worker

A Nova Scotia man who came to the Bow Valley for work last summer was found guilty of pointing a shotgun at a 15-year-old co-worker and roommate in staff accommodation.

A Nova Scotia man who came to the Bow Valley for work last summer was found guilty of pointing a shotgun at a 15-year-old co-worker and roommate in staff accommodation.

Judge Manfred Delong, in Canmore Provincial Court last week, found John Tracey to be guilty of a single count of illegally pointing a firearm.

“I do not find Mr. Tracey was trying to intimidate or threaten (the victim), I find he was being foolish and joking around,” said the judge.

Crown prosecutor Doug Simpson argued Tracey, who served in the reserves for four years, likes guns and likes to shoot them, but his testimony does not support he is a responsible gun owner.

While Simpson asked for a period of probation, defence counsel Anne Wilson pointed out her client spent 12 days in custody after being arrested.

“I really think that is punishment enough,” she said.

Delong agreed with time served and also ordered the shotgun to be forfeit and imposed a five-year weapons prohibition on the 22-year-old Tracey.

The judge, however, denied a request for a conditional discharge, noting it would be against the public interest given the fact the accused pointed a firearm at another person, a situation that could have and has had a more tragic ending.

RCMP Constables Enrique Ortega, Matthew Tucker and Wilson Yee all testified they responded to the Mount Kidd RV Park in Spray Valley Provincial Park on July 19, 2010 for a complaint of an employee pointing a firearm at another.

Because of the nature of the call, Ortega said he waited for Tucker to arrive before approaching one of the trailers that served as staff accommodation for the campground.

The two officers had their guns drawn and ordered Tracey to exit the trailer and lie on the ground, which he did.

While the call was received on July 19, defence counsel Anne Wilson pointed out in fact the offence took place two weeks prior.

Const. Yee arrived after Tracey’s arrest and assisted with the search of Tracey’s room. He said he found a 12 gauge shotgun locked in a black tote case, a military ammunition box containing 23 shotgun rounds in a bandolier and what appeared to be a 9 mm handgun that was later identified to be a bear banger.

Justin Hall testified Tracey pointed the shotgun at him while he was making dinner sometime between July 7 and 10 and later pointed what he thought was a handgun at him while he was doing laundry.

“I didn’t know if it was loaded or not, but he basically pointed it at me,” Hall said with respect to the first incident. “I didn’t feel harmed at the time or in danger – I knew he wouldn’t shoot it.”

Hall, who was 15 at the time, said Tracey had previously shown him the firearms after they became roommates.

The now 16-year-old said he actively hunts and shoots in competitions and as a result was knowledgeable about firearms and how they should be safely handled.

Hall also testified on July 5 he went on a hike with Tracey up Wedge Mountain and he fired the shotgun into the air twice.

Owner and operator of the RV park Siegfried Schwartz testified Tracey inquired if he could bring firearms with him before he arrived from the East Coast to work.

“I said at no time are firearms allowed at the campground and if I found out he had firearms he would be immediately dismissed,” he said.

Wilson suggested Schwartz did not like Tracey as an employee and it was handy for him to have the RCMP get rid of him rather than deal with him still living in staff accommodation.

Tracey testified he did not ask if he could bring his shotgun because as part of having the licenced firearm he is required to have it accompany him if he moves.

He also testified he did not point the shotgun or the bear banger at Hall at any point in time, but admitted to shooting the firearm during the hike up Wedge Mountain.

Tracey said he took the shotgun on the hike for bear defence.

“I guess I’m over protective of myself,” he said.

He testified on July 19 he had become frustrated with Schwartz and quit his job before going to his trailer and before police arrived and placed him under arrest.

Delong said he found Hall to be a credible witness and did not believe Tracey’s denials that the conversation with Schwartz about bringing firearms to the campground did not occur.

He found Tracey not guilty of two charges in relation to the bear banger as it is not a firearm and issued a conditional stay on a third charge.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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