What started out as a threat turned into something much more serious when a man shot his friend over an argument about rent money.
Kenneth Brian Ralston pleaded guilty to two counts, including use of a firearm and aggravated assault for shooting Michael Anderson in 2011.
The pair had been friends for over a decade when Anderson fell on hard times and was forced to live in his truck, which he parked at a Lake Country property rented by Ralston. During the cold winter months, he moved into Ralston’s home, and that’s when Ralston alleges that Anderson began to take certain liberties.
According to his lawyer Gavin Jones, Ralston says Anderson’s mood would change frequently and he had become increasingly hostile after moving into the home.
Black eyes, bruises and burning his ‘patio furniture’ is what lead Ralston to confront Anderson after a few drinks during the night of March 3, 2011.
Ralston’s lawyer says his client only intended to scare his friend, who was almost $800 or two months late on rent. Ralston was charging Anderson $400 a month to live in the home. The court heard that multiple people living on low income were scattered around the property and they all counted on each other to pay their fair share of rent.
The rifle used in the shooting was not registered to Ralston and was found on the property when he moved there. The Crown alleged that he burst in on Anderson, pointed the weapon and said words to the effect of, “You had better pay the rent, or get out, or I’ll shoot you.”
And that’s when Ralston shot Anderson in the thigh. There was a massive amount of blood flowing from the wound, from which Ralston immediately tried to place a tourniquet and then he called 911.
Anderson was placed in a medically induced coma and underwent surgeries and skin grafts. He spent two months in hospital and at one point it was unknown whether he would lose his leg. That was followed by vigorous rehab and learning how to walk again, says Crown counsel Debra Pope.
She says Anderson is still angry at the outcome.
Ralston meanwhile has maintained that the shooting was an accident and the gun went off when he tripped walking over the ledge of a sliding glass door.
Officers who testified at the preliminary hearing cast doubt on this scenario because the rifle was found with another bullet ready to go and already in the chamber. It was also noted that there was no ‘hair trigger’, and needed between five and seven pounds of pressure in order to fire the gun.
Judge Anne Wallace noted that police detected alcohol on Ralston’s breath at the scene and pointed out during the sentencing that he had four previous convictions for impaired driving. She believed alcohol was a contributing factor in the shooting and sentenced him to three years in prison, along with a firearm ban.