An ill-conceived effort to get rid of a pesky bird at a cookie factory with a dose of birdshot backfired when a worker at a dough machine was hit by a stray pellet.
A manager trying for several weeks to permanently rid the warehouse of a bird flitting about the rafters at the Best Maid Cookie Co. in River Falls, Wis., now faces charges after firing a .22-caliber rifle while lying on the floor.
Isaac N. Thielen, 29, of River Falls, will appear in St. Croix County Circuit Court on March 10 after being charged with one count of injury by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon.
According to the criminal complaint, he took a shot at the bird while lying on the floor of the warehouse area of the Best Maid Cookie Co. factory on Dec. 14. But one of the salt-and-pepper birdshot pellets apparently ricocheted, striking Jason T. Boron, 29, of Baldwin, Wis., in the head.
Boron, a temporary worker in his first week on the job, told police he had a ball of dough in his hand and was about to throw it into a hopper when he felt a sharp sting above his left ear. He turned and saw Thielen lying on the floor some distance away, holding a gun and aiming it at the ceiling, the complaint says.
Thielen told police he had been trying to get the bird out of the warehouse for the previous month and a half, and when it landed on the ground, he lay on the ground and shot at it. He missed the bird, the complaint says, and he went on with his day. When he realized what had happened, he went right to the police. Efforts to reach him Tuesday were not successful.
Boron was shot about 2:45 p.m., according to video cameras at the factory. The film shows Thielen lying on the floor apparently shooting at the bird.
"The rifle is pointed towards the area where the employees are actively making cookies," the complaint says. Video from another camera shows Boron reacting in apparent pain and looking around.
Boron told police he pulled a small pellet out of his head and wrapped it in a piece of tape. Since he was not allowed to leave his machine, he waited until his first break to go to police, he said.
Factory managers told police that as he left at 4 p.m., Boron "was yelling at people, stating he was going to sue someone for getting shot."
At the time he was struck by the pellet, Boron told police he did not need medical attention, and a police officer noted that there were no marks or bleeding, though Boron did wince when the area was touched. Two days later, Boron went to Baldwin Medical Center in Baldwin, Wis., for treatment, the complaint says. But he became upset when he wasn't getting prompt treatment and left.
Police were told that shooting at birds in the warehouse area of the plant was not supposed to occur when employees were present.
Jim Anderson • 651-735-0999