Bismarck veteran accused of terrorizing garage door company employee
A Bismarck man is accused of pointing a gun at an employee of a local garage door company who mistakenly pulled down the wrong driveway.
Raymond Geffre, 70, has been charged with felony terrorizing in relation to the July 3 incident. His attorney, Tom Dickson, said Geffre, a disabled Vietnam veteran, should not be charged, as Geffre was defending his property and exercising his right to bear arms.
"He's a disabled Vietnam vet and he got charged with terrorizing with a two-year mandatory minimum for allegedly pointing his own gun at a trespasser on his own property," Dickson said.
Burleigh County Assistant State's Attorney Julie Lawyer said Geffre was charged because he pointed the gun at the employee, who later told Burleigh County Sheriff's Department deputies that he feared for his life.
"Whether his intent was to scare the guy into never coming back, I don't know ... but obviously, when you point a gun at someone, you know that one of the things that can happen is you make them in fear for their safety and their lives," Lawyer said.
According to an affidavit filed in the case, the Burleigh County Sheriff's Department responded to a report of terrorizing at a home in rural Bismarck off Highway 1804.
When deputies arrived, Edward Weber, 53, an employee of Midwest Doors, told them he had been looking for an address for a customer, when he drove down the wrong driveway and attempted to turn around. As he was leaving, Weber said Geffre pulled up in a vehicle beside him, and got out holding a cellphone in one hand and a black semi automatic handgun in the other.
Dickson said Geffre was working outside that day on a float for the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter that had been entered in the Mandan Fourth of July Parade.
Geffre sustained injuries in the war the resulted in a traumatic brain injury and severe hearing loss, according to Dickson. He said Geffre was confused that day and argues that Weber was trespassing. Dickson and Lawyer both disagree over whether "no trespassing" signs were posted at Geffre's residence.
"Even if what the state alleges is true, it's not a crime," Dickson said, adding it's not terrorizing "on your own property."
Lawyer said Weber was not trespassing.
"The employee never left his vehicle, the vehicle never left the roadway. Even if there were trespass signs up, this is an individual who thought he was going to the correct address. So, no, trespassing doesn't apply to people who are invited to do work," she said.
Lawyer said she doesn't not dispute that Geffre has a right to bear arms under the Second Amendment or the right to defend his property using force but said his act of pointing the gun "wasn't proper defense of property."
"Had he not brandished the weapon, had it just been at his side, there is no violation there," she said.
Dickson said Geffre did not intend to terrorize anybody. Geffre lives alone at his home and wears hearing aids, which he did not have on that day while he was working outside on the float.
"Was he confused that morning? Yeah, he was confused. But that still doesn't mean it's a felony and he has to go to prison for two years," he said.
Lawyer said there's no exemption under the law for veterans, and that she believes Geffre was properly charged.
"There's two parts to the (terrorizing) law: That you do it with intent to make somebody afraid or in reckless disregard of causing such fear," Lawyer said, adding that she believes Geffre acted in reckless disregard.
A judge has not yet responded to Dickson's motion to dismiss the case against Geffre. A trial is set for Dec. 20.