WADENA, Minn. (AP) - A 19-year-old Wadena man who allegedly fired pellets from an air gun at three school buses said he didn't mean to hurt or frighten anyone.
"I did not intentionally fire that gun at anybody," said Timothy Erwin Mindermann. He added, "I feel horrible about it."
Mindermann was charged Thursday with three counts of second-degree felony assault for allegedly firing a pellet-type gun a school buses.
Otter Tail County prosecutors allege Mindermann fired shots from an air gun at three school buses that had children in them. The pellets broke windows on the buses.
Prosecutors based their case on the testimony of a young woman who said she was riding in the car with Mindermann when he allegedly fired the pistol.
Mindermann said he was playing with a spring-loaded airsoft gun while he was driving with his window down as the buses passed him going the other way.
He said the pistol may have fired, but he didn't think it was loaded with any of the hollow plastic pellets it used as ammunition.
Mindermann said the allegations were particularly painful for him because he's in the U.S. Army Reserve, and knows better than to play with a weapon while driving.
Airsoft guns are used to play a military-style game which is similar to paintball but cheaper and less messy. The airsoft guns have been criticized by police for looking too realistic.
Mindermann said he received the pistol involved, which had a silver body and a black handle, from his grandmother for Christmas several years ago.