It was past 2 a.m. when Charles Carlson awoke to noises.
He went to the kitchen of his Sandstone, Minn., farmhouse to see what was going on and ended up with a revolver pointed at his head, according to charges filed Friday in Pine County.
Carlson knew the man’s gun was loaded, “as he could see the rounds in each chamber of the cylinder.” So Carlson, 75, pretended to be blind and hard of hearing. The intruder lowered his weapon for a moment — long enough for Carlson to grab his own loaded Glock 9mm handgun.
Charges filed Friday against a second alleged intruder, 16-year-old Franklin Joseph Brewster, give the first details of an early morning drama that unfolded on Fox Road, west of Sandstone, and left one man dead. Carlson shot and killed Gypsy Wayne Watts, 23, after Watts and Brewster entered his house looking for drugs and money, the charges say.
“I’ve never had my revolver out of my pocket in 50-some odd years,” Carlson said by phone Friday evening. “It was an unfortunate thing that happened.”
Brewster was charged in juvenile court with three counts of first-degree burglary. The charges say Brewster was at a party in Hinckley, south of Sandstone, when he told Watts about a man he knew only as “Carlson,” who would have cash and drugs. The pair took another man’s van, without his permission, to Carlson’s house.
The pair, both wearing latex gloves, found Carlson’s wallet in a bedroom and swiped a $100 bill before Carlson, who was sleeping on the porch, woke up.
“Brewster stated that Watts went to confront him but that he stayed back because Carlson knew him and he didn’t want to be recognized,” the charges say. While Watts was pointing a gun at Carlson’s face, Brewster ran, covering his face.
Carlson said Friday that he works with Brewster’s father and “treated the kid good all his life.” He declined to talk in detail about what happened early Thursday, saying his attorney had advised him against giving statements.
His voice softened as he added, “The whole deal is saddening.”
The Sheriff’s Office will pass along evidence to the county attorney’s office to see if the shooting qualifies under a Minnesota law known as the “Castle Doctrine” that allows a person to use deadly force in his or her home in some circumstances.
“We’re not finding anything that would indicate any wrongdoing on the homeowner’s part,” Chief Deputy Steven Blackwell said Thursday.
Blackwell said that Carlson is “vulnerable,” and “has some physical ailments.” A man who answered Carlson’s phone Thursday night said Carlson has cancer.
Watts, a Sandstone resident, had a criminal history in Pine County and North Dakota, Blackwell said. Watts was convicted in Minnesota of carrying a pistol without a permit, among other charges. In 2009, he pleaded guilty in North Dakota to robbery and burglary, records show.
According to Friday’s charges, Brewster was running toward the door when he heard Carlson yelling “get down, get down.” Then, a gunshot. Brewster kept running and was halfway to the van when the second gunshot rang out.
Back at the party, Brewster told one man what happened, and “that Gypsy was shot and was dead.” Another man interviewed by officers said he heard Watts and Brewster earlier in the night, discussing their plan, according to the charges.
Carlson told officers that after he grabbed his gun, he told Watts to get down on his knees and put his hands behind his head, according to the charges. Watts did so, but then began fidgeting and started to stand up. Carlson said he told Watts to stay still, but Watts walked toward him instead.
“Don’t do it, don’t do it,” Carlson said. But Watts “kept coming forward,” the charges say.
Carlson shot Watts in the leg. Watts ran out the door, then turned around and began reaching for the gun in his left pocket, Carlson said, prompting him to shoot Watts a second time.
Asked Friday what made him think to play deaf and blind when confronted by an armed intruder in his home, Carlson replied: “I’m a psychologist.”