SANDPOINT — Quick reflexes are credited with saving the life of a man who was fired on with a handgun at a Sandpoint retirement facility on Saturday night.
“This could have been a murder had the victim not had the reflexes,” Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor William Wilson said during James Albert Rafferty III’s initial court appearance in Bonner County Magistrate Court on Monday. He is charged with aggravated assault.
Sandpoint Police were summoned to the Huckleberry Retirement facility on Ponderosa Drive shortly before 7 p.m., after dispatcher’s received a report of a weapons offense.
An employee of the facility told police he directed a coworker to take a plate from Rafferty, according to a probable cause affidavit. Rafferty responded by grabbing the woman’s arm before reaching under his shirt and opened fire on the male employee, the affidavit said.
The man told police he ducked to avoid being struck by the incoming round, court documents said.
Rafferty, 63, returned to his room with the pistol, which police said was a Model 1911 semiautomatic chambered for a .22-caliber round.
City officials said the facility was evacuated and Rafferty surrendered after a brief standoff with the Emergency Response Team, which is comprised of Sandpoint Police officers and Bonner County sheriff’s deputies.
When questioned by police, Rafferty said he intended harm when he opened fire, according to the affidavit.
Wilson recommended bail be set at $50,000 due to the “bizarre” circumstances of the case and because the alleged victim came perilously close to being killed. Deputy Public Defender Catherine Enright recommended Rafferty be released on his own recognizance or a reduced bail due the lack of a prior criminal record in Idaho.
“This does seem uncharacteristic,” Enright said of Rafferty’s behavior.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Rafferty said when the subject of bail was discussed. “I have no place to live. I can’t go back there.”
Judge Tera Harden set Rafferty’s bail at $30,000 and entered an order prohibiting him from contacting the alleged victim. She also appointed a public defender to represent Rafferty, who reported being unemployed and disabled.
A preliminary hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence to warrant a trial in 1st District Court is set for June 20.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.