Local man refuses to get railroaded by Cartoon County.

Cloquet man’s fight against gun charges pays off
By Jana Peterson

Today at 7:25 a.m.

It took more than a year of research and legal wrangling, but thanks to perseverance and a firm conviction that he’d done nothing wrong, a Cloquet man has cleared his name of four felony charges.

Carlton County Judge Leslie Beiers dismissed all charges against Trenton Kalash on June 23 for lack of probable cause, ending a court case that had dragged on since April 2014.

Kalash, 24, had faced four charges, all possible felonies, including endangering safety by intentional discharge of a firearm and reckless discharge of firearm within a municipality, along with aiding and abetting the same two charges.

The charges stemmed from an April 4, 2014, incident in which Kalash and two other young men — Timothy Ryan Fogelberg and Kristofer Raymond Young — were shooting guns at a hollow wooden door propped against a snowbank in rural Cloquet. Although target shooting in that area north of North Cloquet Road is allowed under city code, the men were charged after a family living in a home about 300 yards on the other side of that door found a bullet hole in their second-story bedroom wall and a spent bullet from an AK-47 in their bathroom the next day.

When Cloquet police investigated, they learned that the three men had been target shooting the prior evening. A criminal complaint alleged the men acted intentionally in shooting the firearms, and shot in the direction of the victims’ home, thereby endangering them. For that reason, all three were charged with the same four charges.
“You are always supposed to know the backdrop, what’s behind where you’re shooting,” Cloquet Police Chief Steve Stracek said in a previous Pine Journal interview. “It’s basic hunting rules. But people make mistakes.”
Kalash, who was shooting his own pistol, said he knew exactly what he was doing.
“At 50 yards, (the pistol bullet) drops like 6 inches,” he said, pointing out that it was not a long-range firearm. “What I was doing was safe. But because he (Young) brought out his AK-47 and was shooting it off toward the woods (and the other home) and because it has a range of like 1,000 yards or better, that’s where he got in trouble.”
Both Young and Fogelberg took plea deals. Fogelberg — who was shooting a Mosin-Nagant shotgun — pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of recklessly handling or using a dangerous weapon, for which he was sentenced to 90 days in jail (stayed) and fees of $485. Young pleaded guilty to a felony charge of endangering safety by intentional discharge of a firearm. He received three years of probation, and was ordered to pay $860 in court fees and fines.
Kalash refused to settle. He went to Cloquet City Hall and got maps, showing where citizens can and cannot legally shoot firearms for target practice. He made copies of the original story in the Pine Journal. He researched Cloquet City Code and explained the training he’d undergone when he got his permit to carry his pistol.
There was more than his permit to carry at stake, the Cloquet resident explained. He had a job working at a group home, and a criminal record could have threatened that. He would have lost some or all of his gun rights. He also was just starting up his own business, TK Company Towing LLC.
Kalash and his attorney, Elizabeth Polling, argued in court that Kalash was not being unsafe when he shot at the door with his pistol, and that he did not aid and abet Young.
“I didn’t hand him the gun, give him ammo or tell him where to shoot,” Kalash said, adding that he didn’t know what kind of gun Young was going to shoot beforehand. “If you were at a gun range and someone shot someone there, it wouldn’t make everyone an accomplice, would it?”
They also disputed claims presented by the prosecuting attorney, Assistant Carlton County Attorney Michael Boese, that some or all of the trio had been drinking before target shooting.
Kalash said when he saw the drinking allegations in the state’s evidence, he wrote his attorney and told her he wanted to see the documents alleging that, and offered to get witnesses to testify that he wasn’t.
“I feel like they brought that up to sway the court that it was reckless,” Kalash said. “I caught that right away. There was no alcohol involved.
“A couple days after that, the case was dismissed.”
Judge Beiers dismissed all four charges for “lack of probable cause,” noting in a court memorandum that there was no evidence Kalash shot the AK-47, and no evidence that a bullet from a pistol could travel “through 100 yards of trees dense enough to obscure from vision a house … and an additional 200 yards of space.” Additionally, she noted that mere proximity to criminal activity does not establish probable cause to believe a person is engaged in criminal activity and no evidence presented that proved Kalash knew what his co-defendants were going to shoot.
In response to questions from the Pine Journal after the case was dismissed, Boese said he thought the case was close and had to be prosecuted.
“You could see where the bullets were going right through the hollow door and ricocheting off the frozen ground toward the home that was hit … all the rounds were doing that,” he said, adding that he didn’t think that part of town was safe to shoot anymore because it is more populated than when the city code was written. “I’m as big of a Second Amendment guy as anybody, but shooters need to be cognizant of where their bullets are traveling and have to realize they are responsible for their actions when shooting.”
Kalash said he is relieved the case is over and his record is clean, adding that although he was offered a plea deal initially, he wasn’t willing to plead guilty just to expedite the case or guarantee a lesser charge.
“People should do their homework and stand behind what is right,” he said, when asked if he had any advice. “If you didn’t break the law and you know that, then don’t take the first option out because it will affect you for your whole life.”

One Comment

  1. trenton kalash says:

    Hey that’s about me ! now just to find a good lawyer for all the lies…..

Leave a Reply