A St. Paul resident who arrived home and shot a criminal suspect sitting by a side door has been sentenced to probation.
Vincent N. Trotter, 37, was sentenced Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court in connection with his pleading guilty to felony discharge of a dangerous weapon on April 16 at his house in the 600 block of Cook Avenue on the city’s East Side.
The daylight gunfire struck a foot and the left buttocks of a 20-year-old suspected car thief with an extensive criminal history.
Trotter, who until this incident had no history of committing crimes in Minnesota beyond many traffic and parking violations, was sentenced under what is called a stay of imposition. That means the conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor if he successfully complies with the terms of his sentence and three-year probation.
Those terms in the sentence handed down by Judge George Stephenson are: comply with any searches of him, any vehicles, his home or workplace. Trotter also must surrender and not possess any guns.
The felony conviction means Trotter no longer has his state-issued permit to carry a firearm, which he had at the time of the shooting, said defense attorney Jack Rice. However, Trotter can reapply for a new permit if his conviction falls to the misdemeanor level, Rice said.
“Mr. Trotter is a really good man who was put in a difficult situation,” Rice said. “He was honestly afraid” not only for his own safety but for his wife and a child who were in the home at the time, the attorney added.
The gunfire erupted outside Trotter’s home, where there was a sign in a front window that read: “No trespassing. Violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot again!” The sign punctuated the message with drawings of bullet holes.
Exterior security video from Trotter’s home, viewed by police, showed the young man walking up to the house’s unenclosed porch and sitting down with his back against a side door, the criminal complaint read.
“At no time did he attempt to open the door or access the home,” the complaint said.