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Willmar man pleads to gun charge stemming from shooting incident

WILLMAR -- Raul Veliz Jr., 29, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of possession of a pistol or assault weapon by a convicted felon for possessing a stolen gun in September 2011 at Regency Estates East.

As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, two felony charges of receiving stolen property and discharging a weapon in city limits, plus a misdemeanor charge for fleeing a peace officer, will be dismissed. Veliz's attorney, Manuel Guerrero, will file a motion seeking a "downward departure" on his client's sentence, a less severe sentence than state guidelines suggest. Sentencing was set for Dec. 21 before District Judge Michael J. Thompson.

The charges were filed after Willmar police officers were called around 6 p.m. Sept. 17, 2011, to Regency East on a report of gunshots in the area. Officers arrived to find a number of men, including Veliz, in the area.

Witnesses reported that Veliz and another man had a gun and were firing it. When Veliz and the man were told to come toward the officer and speak with him, they ran into a trailer home.

An officer witnessed Veliz exit the back door of the trailer, run into a grassy area and then back into the trailer. The officer found a small silver and black handgun, a muzzle-loading firearm and a sawed-off shotgun in the grassy area. The handgun was loaded and cocked to fire.

Witnesses told police that Veliz and the other man arrived at a gathering and threatened people while firing about five shots in the air. Others reported that there was a group of people with bats and sticks attempting to fight with them.

Another individual reported that Veliz and a relative had had a fight a week earlier at the Caribbean Club and that Veliz and the other man had been driving and walking past their home in attempts to get back at them.

The handgun was examined and determined to be a gun stolen in November 2010 from Zero Tolerance in Willmar.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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