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Wheelchair-bound man found guilty of assault with gun

GRANITE FALLS -- A Yellow Medicine County jury returned guilty verdicts Wednesday against Allen Chancey Olson, 55, of Canby, on felony charges of terroristic threats, reckless disregard of risk and second-degree assault - dangerous weapon.

The verdicts followed a two-day trial in Granite Falls. Olson is paraplegic as the result of a spinal cord injury and relies on a wheelchair to farm land in Florida Township outside of Canby.

The complaint against him charges that he was in his wheelchair when he drew a pistol and pointed it at a township supervisor who had come to his property July 23, 2008, to discuss a right-of-way issue.

During the discussion Olson had become agitated, according to the complaint, and told the supervisor to leave or he would be hurt. He kept the gun trained on the supervisor until he drove away, according to the complaint.

The township supervisor, Curtis Melby, was a former classmate of the defendant and had volunteered to discuss the right-of-way issue with him. Melby is quoted in the complaint as stating that he knew Olson to have a reputation for being easily agitated, and that he commonly carried a firearm in his wheelchair.

The dispute was over township plans to remove a clump of trees on township right of way along a road. Melby initially telephoned Olson to discuss the issue. Olson said he believed the trees were on his land and said he wanted a survey done before any trees were removed.

Township supervisors employed a surveyor. They learned July 21 that the completed survey showed the trees to be in the township's right of way.

Melby drove to Olson's rural residence on July 23 to deliver the news. He said they had a "nice'' conversation until he brought up the right-of-way issue. At that point Olson became agitated and argumentative and accused the supervisor of trespassing. Melby alleged that at this point, Olson "drew a pistol from his right side, cocked the hammer, and pointed it at him."

He described the firearm as a having a silver barrel with pearl grips.

Melby said Olson told him to leave or he would be hurt. Melby began to leave, but found one of the defendant's dogs behind his vehicle. He brought this to the attention of Olson. The complaint said Olson warned the supervisor that if he hurt the dog, he would hurt him.

Melby said Olson kept the gun pointed at him the entire time.

A Yellow Medicine County sheriff's deputy met with Olson on July 24 at the county fairgrounds in Canby to discuss the incident. Olson allegedly described the incident "pretty much'' as had Melby, but said he did not point the gun at the supervisor until he saw him grab something on the dash of his vehicle. Olson said the supervisor had not refused to leave when requested, according to the complaint.

Olson was placed under arrest, and a cased 20-gauge, side-by-side double barrel shotgun and five 20-gauge rounds kept in a stock sleeve were seized from his pickup truck.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 15.