Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - Updated: 10:40 AM
By Rachel Keller Collins
A Marshall County grand jury will review the case of Bonita Walker, 56, who allegedly shot at ATV and UTV riders who crossed onto her property in Fairdealing off Salem Chapel Road on Feb. 19. Walker was arrested the same day and charged with five counts of wanton endangerment, 1st degree, each of which is a Class D felony with the potential sentence of 1-5 years in a state penitentiary, and two charges of criminal mischief 2nd degree, each of which are Class A misdemeanors.
Deputy Chris Greenfield said he and Deputy Luke Rudd, both with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, were dispatched Feb. 19 “in reference to a woman shooting a gun at ATV riders” and “holding some at gunpoint in a field” on Salem Chapel Road. He said when he and Rudd made their way into the field they saw a UTV with four passengers, Travis Miller, Jessica Manley and their two young children, and Walker who was brandishing a handgun “and basically had them held there at gunpoint.”
“Deputy Rudd told Mrs. Walker to put the gun down and I observed Mrs. Walker working the slide of the handgun and at that point I didn’t know what she was doing that for so I grabbed Mrs. Walker by the wrist and gun and made her drop the firearm and Mrs. Walker was then rolled over onto the ground and placed in handcuffs,” he testified.
The gun, a .380 caliber, which Greenfield confirmed is capable of causing serious injury and/or death, had one round in the chamber.
According to Greenfield’s testimony, Walker reported having problems with ATV riders crossing onto her property so when she saw an ATV (later identified as belonging to Chris Pratt) and a UTV (belonging to Miller and Manley) cross onto her property, she drove her vehicle out into the field near where they were and “exited her vehicle with her firearm and went ahead of the riders to cut them off at a path in the woods, which is kind of like a border between the two properties.”
“Mrs. Walker stated she then fired warning shots at the ATV and UTV to stop them. She stated she shot the tire of the ATV operated by Mr. Pratt while Pratt was still on it. Pratt then stopped and Mrs. Walker told him that he needed to leave the ATV where it was and walk out of the field. Mr. Pratt stated he wouldn’t and began driving off. Mrs. Walker then stated she shot the ATV’s gas tank and engine but the ATV accelerated and left,” Greenfield testified. In later testimony when Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Lisa Carter asked Greenfield how close Walker got to the vehicles she was shooting at, Greenfield said Pratt reported that before he drove away, Walker reached to snatch the keys out of the ignition.
Greenfield said according to the victims’ testimony, after Pratt drove off, Walker approached the UTV, which held Miller and Manley and their two small children, and shot at the front tire and at the front of vehicle.
Greenfield said, “They stated they tried to leave once Mrs. Walker confronted them and they realized they were off the land they were given permission to ride on, Dr. Albertson’s land, which adjoins Walker’s property, and they wanted to leave but she was holding them at gunpoint.”
Greenfield said further investigation led to the discovery of five shell casings that corroborated the witnesses’ statements. He said when asked why she shot at the riders, Walker reported it was her belief that “she had the right to defend her property from the ATVs.”
Walker’s attorney, Mark Ashburn of Paducah, asked if police verified the riders had permission to ride on the adjoining property belonging to Dr. Albertson. Greenfield said Albertson’s daughter confirmed they had permission.
Ashburn also noted his client had filed 34 complaints with the MCSO regarding ATV riders on her property without permission. He also noted Walker gave the riders on Feb. 19 the opportunity to leave, but they had to leave their vehicles on her property.
District Judge Jack Telle ruled probable cause had been shown for the grand jury to review the case. The grand jury convenes March 28.