The Cass County State's Attorney’s Office told The Forum on Thursday, Sept. 9, it would not prosecute Joseph A. Larson, who shot at a vehicle driving toward him on his property. The office said the then-59-year-old was acting in self-defense.
“Our self-defense statutes do not require Mr. Larson to retreat before using deadly force to defend himself and/or property under these circumstances,” prosecutors said Aug. 25 in a letter declining charges.
Larson was at his 1212 49th Ave. N. home around 11 p.m. May 10 when 41-year-old James John Mayerhofer of Fargo allegedly trespassed on the property, law enforcement said. Larson told Mayerhofer to leave, but Mayerhofer drove his vehicle toward Larson, court documents alleged.
Larson told police Mayerhofer was “trying to run me down,” so he shot at the vehicle as he retreated to his house, court documents said.
The homeowner didn’t hit Mayerhofer, though two of the five shots fired hit the vehicle, according to prosecutors' letter. Mayerhofer continued to drive after Larson, even after the shooting, according to court documents.
When Cass County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene, Mayerhofer drove away but crashed into a fallen tree, court documents said. He told police his daughter was with him, but he was the lone person in the vehicle.
Mayerhofer later claimed that Larson took his daughter, but she was not in Larson’s house, court documents said. It was determined she was in Grand Forks at the time of the incident, according to prosecutors.
Deputies believe Mayerhofer was impaired by meth, prosecutors said. He was arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of fleeing law enforcement, driving under the influence, refusal to submit to a chemical test and trespassing.
Mayerhofer initially pleaded not guilty to the charges but is slated to change his plea on Sept. 27.
The experience was terrifying for Larson, his attorney Cash Aaland said.
“Fortunately, no one was hurt in this interaction with Mr. Larson, but I hate to think what would have happened had Mr. Larson not been armed and prepared to defend himself,” Aaland said.
The lawyer said this case differs from another in Fargo in which Kyle Mac Ramsey, 56, of Fargo is charged with reckless endangerment. A criminal complaint accused the Mister Money employee of shooting at a fleeing vehicle on June 10 in the pawn shop’s parking lot.
Mister Money owner Daryn Kapaun said Ramsey shot at the vehicle to make it more noticeable to police, as the driver allegedly robbed the pawn shop at gunpoint.
Mayerhofer trespassed on Larson’s property, refused to leave and drove erratically toward the homeowner, prosecutors said.