Man gets sentenced for Shevlin robbery, shooting

John Thomas Turpin, 59, of Mahnomen, was sentenced Thursday to 380 months in federal prison for his role in the Oct. 5, 2005, robbery and shooting of Arnie and Evelyn Erickson, the owners of a rural Shevlin gun store. He was sentenced by U.S. Dis...

John Thomas Turpin, 59, of Mahnomen, was sentenced Thursday to 380 months in federal prison for his role in the Oct. 5, 2005, robbery and shooting of Arnie and Evelyn Erickson, the owners of a rural Shevlin gun store. He was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle.

In issuing the sentence at the federal courthouse in Duluth, Kyle said that Turpin was a dangerous person, and that the sentence reflects both Turpin's acts and his criminal history. Kyle added that Turpin should not be allowed back into society.

Turpin was convicted by a federal jury June 21 of multiple counts in connection with the Erickson robbery. The charges were:

-- Robbery affecting interstate commerce.

-- Aiding and abetting the


discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence.

-- One count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

-- One count of being a felon in possession of ammunition.

According to the criminal complaint, in the early afternoon of Oct. 5, 2005, Turpin and his brother, Gary Lynn Goodwin, 57, were arrested after Turpin attempted to rob A&E Produce, where the Ericksons also sell used guns. The store is located on U.S. Highway 2 between Shevlin and Bagley.

A federal jury found Goodwin innocent of any charges June 21.

The complaint states that while Goodwin waited outside in a vehicle, Turpin entered the store, fired two shots from a 12-gauge shotgun, wounding the store owners. Arnie was treated at Clearwater County Memorial Hospital for a gunshot wound in the shoulder. Evelyn was later transported to North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji with a gunshot wound in the leg, which took more than a year to heal.

"I'll never have full mobility," said Evelyn in a telephone interview Friday from the Ericksons' home.

However, she said she is grateful to be alive. "And I still have my leg," she said. "First, they thought they'd have to amputate. Dr. (Patrick) Moriarty said the pieces were there, so he'd try to save it."


Arnie testified during the sentencing about how the robbery and shootings have affected their lives. The couple owns and operates a greenhouse business with nine buildings. Evelyn's lack of mobility means she can't walk safely in snow, but work starting plants has to begin in winter.

"It's hard this time of year," he said.

Arnie said he has a large scar on his shoulder, but he has regained full use of his arm.

The couple's daughter, Anita Peterson, accompanied Arnie and Evelyn to the sentencing, along with Peterson's son, Dale Davy, a Bemidji High School junior; his girlfriend, Brittany Zastrow, a BHS sophomore; and a friend, Caara Holmstrom; and her mother, Marian Hogaard.

Arnie said they are glad to have Turpin's sentencing completed, "closing the door on him." He added that Kyle ordered Turpin to serve at least 85 percent of the 31 years and six months of the sentence, which would come to close to 27 years in federal prison. That would make Turpin about 86 years old at his release.

After the incident, authorities executed a search warrant on Turpin's vehicle and seized a police scanner, ammunition, rope, zip-ties and drawings of the interior of A&E Produce. According to an affidavit filed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, in an interview with law enforcement, Turpin stated he was taking his brother back to Minneapolis and planned to rob the store on the way. Turpin also stated that he had previously cased the store, and brought a .12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, rope, zip ties, rubber gloves and a police scanner to help facilitate the crime. All the items were found in Turpin's vehicle. He never got the chance to use these items because Arnie fought back.

According to trial testimony and court documents, Turpin entered the A&E Produce Gun Shop in rural Shevlin, loaded one of the store's shotguns with ammunition he had in his pocket and pointed the weapon at Evelyn. Arnie heard the gun close and rushed toward Turpin, who then shot Evelyn. Arnie tried to take the gun from Turpin.

After Turpin shot Evelyn, Arnie pulled out a black semiautomatic handgun. At that point, Turpin fled the scene. Turpin reloaded the shotgun and, according to his statement to officers, was going to shoot Arnie if he was pursued. Turpin ultimately hid in the woods behind the store for two hours before law enforcement found and arrested him.


Turpin has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1967 when he was convicted and served time for aggravated assault for shooting a victim with a .25-caliber pistol. He was convicted for numerous aggravated robberies in 1980, 1989 and 1990. Turpin was on federal supervised release when he committed the crimes in Shevlin.

This case was the result of an investigation by the ATF, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Bagley Police Department, the sheriff's offices of Clearwater and Polk counties and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian S. Wilton.

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