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David Allen Pettersen, 65, is a farmer in Madelia, Minnesota. He woke to the sound of several teenagers trying to break into his house. He grabbed his .45 caliber handgun to defend himself. He fired several times, striking one of the teens who died a short distance from the farm. Pettersen avoided a second-degree manslaughter charge by pleading guilty intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon. His mistake was shooting at the teens as they were trying to drive away from the farm.

A Minnesota farmer who interrupted a burglary in progress at his rural Madelia home earlier this year was sentenced in Watonwan District Court Tuesday to 90 days in jail for the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old suspect.

David Allen Pettersen, 65, opened fire on three teens with a .45-caliber handgun after they attempted to break into his home on Jan. 28. Nicolas Thomas Embertson, 19, was struck by the gunfire and died not far from the scene.

Pettersen, who originally faced second-degree manslaughter, pleaded guilty to intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon, which is a felony. The manslaughter charge was dropped as part of a plea deal, but Pettersen will still be required to complete two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service, according to reports from local media

Pettersen should have fired as soon as he got his gun, but waiting till the teens were trying to leave was his undoing. The lesson learned is that if you intend to use your gun to defend yourself and your home, don’t wait until the criminal is fleeing, but drop him or her while they are in the act of committing the crime. The more burglars and intruders that get shot while breaking into homes, the more other would-be burglars will think twice before making the same mistake.

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