Man jailed on gun charge

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PRIEST LAKE — A Washington state man was arrested on Sunday after allegedly threatening bar patrons with a gun after they tried to prevent him from driving away while intoxicated.

Erec Charles Alan Hopkins is charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, a felony, and misdemeanor driving under the influence.

Hopkins, a 39-year-old Eloika Lake resident, made an initial appearance in Bonner County Magistrate Court on Monday via video link with the Bonner County Jail. Judge Lori Meulenberg set Hopkins’ bail at $10,000 and appointed a public defender to represent him, court records show.

Deputies were summoned to Millie’s restaurant and bar after patrons said Hopkins pulled a gun when they tried to keep him from driving off, a probable cause affidavit said. Hopkins was found slumped over in the driver’s seat of his idling pickup truck, which was parked in grass facing Highway 57. Hopkins, the affidavit said, was roused and he attempted reverse his truck to try and get it unstuck but was unable to.

A black powder .44-caliber revolver was found tucked between the seats. The pistol’s hammer was cocked and it was fully loaded with firing caps, according to court documents. Hopkins’ breath-alcohol content was measured at between 0.13 and 0.17.

Hopkins was barred from possessing a firearm due to convictions in his home state for felony assault and forgery dating back to 1999.

Hopkins, the affidavit said, denied pointing the gun at anyone and argued that his prior felony convictions did not prevent him possessing black powder firearms.

Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Nick Lapire added a persistent violator sentencing enhancement because of Hopkins’ two prior felonies. The possession charge is punishable by up to five years in prison, but the sentencing enhancement could add five years to life to the underlying prison term.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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