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Bail set for man who shot 17-year-old girl Monday

BEMIDJI -- Bail has been set at $1 million for a man who shot a 17-year-old girl three times in Eckles Township on Monday night.

Chad Eric Pickering, 40, of Bemidji, was arraigned Wednesday in Beltrami County Court on one count of felony first-degree attempted murder. Judge John G. Melbye set conditional bail at $300,000 provided Pickering abide by stipulations including remaining law abiding, surrendering any firearms and having no contact with his victim.

According to the criminal complaint, Pickering shot the girl because he was upset with her over accusations he had been trespassing on her property.

The 17-year-old called 911 after being shot three times while standing on the deck of her home on Palomino Lane on Monday night at about 10 p.m. Earlier that day, the victim had spoken to Pickering about trespassing, according to the criminal complaint.

Law enforcement noted a large amount of blood outside the house on the deck and leading into the home where the girl was found lying on the living room floor, according to court documents. The victim had been shot in her upper left chest, right thigh and left ankle. Investigators retrieved three spent .45 caliber shells in the grass south of the deck. An area was located approximately 75 to 100 feet south of the residence where it appeared someone had been lying in the grass underneath a pine tree.

When asked who may have shot her, the victim told law enforcement a neighbor who lived three doors south from her, whose name she did not know, had been causing problems in the neighborhood. According to the complaint, she said the neighbor, Pickering, had been repeatedly riding his lawn mower through her yard and routinely carried a pistol in a holster while doing so.

The girl told law enforcement she noticed a shadow of a person crouching in the yard near the south end of the deck when she let her dog out Monday night, the complaint stated. She said she then heard gunshots and felt the pain of being struck by bullets. She fell down on the deck and pulled herself inside the residence where she called 911.

A search of the neighborhood led law enforcement to Pickering. After a search warrant was obtained, deputies found a Kimber .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol with a black leather holster in an air vent in the living room at Pickering’s residence and two partial boxes of .45 caliber pistol ammunition, according to court documents.

Pickering was arrested and transported to the Beltrami County Jail, where he gave investigators conflicting statements. He first said he had not left his house that day nor had he gotten into an argument with any of his neighbors. The complaint stated Pickering told law enforcement he owned a BB gun and had owned a Kimber .45 handgun in the past, but his wife may have sold it and he had not seen the gun in a week or so. He later recanted that he stored the gun and holster inside a vent in his home. During the investigation, a fresh grass stain was noted on Pickering’s jeans.

Pickering then told law enforcement he’d give them “the honest story,” which included taking his children on a lawn mower ride and being threatened by a girl for trespassing. According to court documents, Pickering said he went over to the victim’s house and knelt down by a pine tree, “...and I waited, and I waited, and I waited,” documents stated. After 15 to 20 minutes, the victim opened the front door and he shot her twice from a distance of 15 to 25 yards. Pickering said after he shot her, the girl dropped down, which is when he shot her again.

The victim was transported to the emergency room at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center and then transferred to a hospital in Duluth. Because the victim is a minor, a status update could not be obtained.

The maximum penalty for an attempted first-degree murder charge is 20 years in prison. Beltrami County Attorney Tim Faver recommended the maximum sentence given the severity of the crime.

“Mr. Pickering has confessed to lying in wait and shooting a 17-year-old girl at her home,” Faver said in court Wednesday.

Pickering told the court he is originally from Sparta, Wis., and moved to the Bemidji area in August, where he resided on the 6100 block of Palomino Lane. Pickering is scheduled to appear in court Monday, he is currently being held in the Beltrami County Jail.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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