November 21, 2013 | Volume 118, Issue No. 47

Man shot dead in home invasion

A conversation at a party in Hinckley last Wednesday led to a decision to go to a Sandstone home in the middle of the night in search of prescription drugs and money.

Gypsy Wayne Watts was shot dead during a Sandstone home invasion November 14.

That decision paved the way for a confrontation at a rural Sandstone home early Thursday in which the homeowner shot one of the suspects dead.

Authorities were called to the farmhouse, located on Fox Road, near the Audubon Center of the North Woods, at 2:38 a.m. Thursday.

According to the Pine County Sheriff's Office, two males entered the building in what appears to be a robbery attempt. One man, Gypsy Wayne Watts, 23, was armed with a handgun and confronted a 75-year-old Sandstone man, Charles Carlson. Carlson also had a loaded weapon.

Authorities believe Carlson acted in self-defense when he shot Watts dead.

A 16-year-old from Sandstone was also involved, but he took off following the shots. He was arrested by Pine County authorities later that morning.

Investigators from the Sheriff's Office and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were quickly on the scene to investigate.

On Friday, the juvenile was charged with three counts of first-degree burglary. Pine County sheriff officials are petitioning the court to get the 16-year-old certified as an adult.

Since the 16-year-old is being charged with a serious crime, his name is public information and was released on Friday.

A copy of the juvenile delinquency petition, also released to this newspaper, shows that the 16-year-old suspect is Franklin Joseph Brewster of Sandstone.

According to the statement of probable cause, a friend of Carlson was upstairs when he heard a gunshot and a plea to call police saying there had been a home invasion and there was a man who had been shot.

Officers arrived on the scene and found Watts deceased lying on the ground about 30 feet from the residence. Watts was found with a .22 caliber Taurus revolver halfway out of his left pocket as well as a rubber glove on his left hand, the report said. Watts had a gunshot wound on the left front side of his head and a gunshot wound to his right leg. The report added that "the hammer of the revolver was hung up on the decedent's pocket and his hand was clenched as in a grabbing motion."

Carlson told authorities he was sleeping in the porch of the residence and heard noises and found a male leaving the porch and entering the kitchen. He thought it was his friend so he got up and Watts turned around and pointed a gun at his head, the report said. Carlson stated he knew it was loaded as he could see rounds in each of the chambers of the cylinder.

Carlson then said he began to act like he did not know what was going on, said he was blind and hard of hearing. At that point, Carlson stated Watts lowered his weapon, which allowed Carlson to grab his own loaded handgun.

Carlson stated he pointed the gun at Watts and told him to get on his knees and put his hands behind his head. After calling for his friend to call 911, Carlson said Watts began fidgeting and proceeded to stand up. Carlson said Watts swept the contents of the table onto the ground and began to walk toward him. Carlson said he told Watts, "Don't do it, don't do it," but Watts kept coming forward and he proceeded to fire his pistol, shooting Watts in the leg, the statement said.

After he was shot, Carlson said that Watts ran out the door and he yelled for him to stop. At this point, the male turned around and began reaching for the gun in his left pocket and Carlson fired at him.

Brewster, the report said, subsequently contacted law enforcement and met with two officers. The statement said Brewster was advised of his rights pursuant to Miranda and he said he understood. He originally told the officers they were with another unidentified third person, but later said it was only he and Watts involved.

Brewster told the officers he and Watts were at a party in Hinckley and talked about stealing from Carlson. They used a van without the owner's permission and drove to Carlson's residence.

Brewster said both he and Watts were wearing latex gloves and Watts had brought along a revolver.

When the confrontation happened, Brewster told the officers he stayed back. He said Carlson knew him and he didn't want to be recognized. Brewster stated he saw Watts point the gun at Carlson's face numerous times before running out of the home covering his face so he would not be recognized.

Brewster also said that Carlson told Watts, "Get down, get down," the same statement Carlson told authorities. Brewster said he ran from the scene and heard the second gunshot. Brewster said he left in the van and abandoned it on Highway 61 between Sandstone and Hinckley, and walked back to Hinckley.

Brewster did come back with a $100 bill stolen from the home and had a friend break the bill at a gas station in Hinckley.

Authorities also had a statement from a third person at the party in Hinckley where he heard Brewster and Watts discussing the burglary prior to perpetrating it.

A fourth person also provided a statement saying that Brewster told him what happened the night of the incident.

Chief Deputy Steve Blackwell said they don't anticipate there will be any charges against Carlson but they are waiting for many supplemental reports before a final decision is made. Reports from the medical examiner and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) have not been processed yet. That decision will be made by County Attorney John Carlson.

"We are not seeing any criminal action by the homeowner," Blackwell said.

Both suspects have had quite a few run-ins with local law enforcement, but more for Watts, Blackwell said.

Watts' Facebook page lists him as a former East Central and Crossroads Learning Center student. News of his passing quickly made it on Facebook with friends saying that Watts was a good kid, but just made a wrong decision that night. Others stated they could understand the homeowner's decision that night to defend himself.

Along with several arrests in Minnesota, the Grand Forks Herald reported Friday it was just over a year ago Watts was released from the North Dakota State Penitentiary. In 2009, Watts was convicted for his involvement in four Grand Forks business robberies. In three of the cases, the newspaper reported Watts and another man used golf clubs to rob the stores. In those cases, he pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and one for burglary. Another count of threatening a clerk with a knife was dropped.

The plea agreement called for 10 years in prison with six years suspended and six years of supervised probation, the Grand Forks Herald reported.

The judge, who initially was reluctant to accept the plea deal, told him "you're getting a heck of a break ..." and that Watts was "the only person in this courtroom who can control what happens the rest of his life," the newspaper reported.

One year and one week after he was released from the state prison, he was shot dead during the home invasion.

On WCMP Friday, Sheriff Robin Cole said that around 1 p.m., three people of interest were arrested near Cheri's Flower Basket in Sandstone. One of the parties was taken to the county jail, while two others were released.

"That doesn't mean charges won't be coming in the future," Cole said.

He said the investigation, still not complete, took a ton of work as they checked multiple residences in Hinckley and Sandstone.

"Anyone involved with this will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Cole told WCMP.

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