Montana man who shot into crowd at Coeur d’Alene bar sent to prison

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COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — A Montana man who pleaded guilty to firing into a crowd at a northern Idaho bar last year has been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

Austin L. Sherper, 25, of Whitefish, pleaded guilty in April to seven felonies including aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, The Coeur d’Alene Press reported. Prosecutors said he shot 10 times at a crowd outside a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, bar after security staffers told him he wasn’t allowed inside. Two people were grazed by the bullets and treated at a hospital.

District Judge Scott Wayman sentenced Sherper on Monday to 15 years in prison for each felony. He said the prison terms would be served at the same time and that Sherper would be eligible for parole after serving at least five years in prison.

Police responded to reports of the shooting at the Iron Horse Bar & Grill around 9 p.m. on July 11, 2020. According to court documents, a man later identified as Sherper had earlier had an altercation with security staffers at the bar, who told him he was no longer allowed inside. Witnesses who were smoking outside the bar told police Sherper yelled at them as he walked past, then threatened to come back and kill them.

Prosecutors said Sherper returned to the bar in a truck and fired 10 shots at people gathered under an awning outside, emptying his handgun.

Police later found Sherper at a Coeur d’Alene home and arrested him after an hourslong standoff.

During the sentencing hearing, a psychiatrist testified that Sherper had bipolar disorder and was experiencing a manic episode at the time of the shooting. Angela Lentz, Sherper’s sister, also spoke to the judge, saying Sherper had been proactive about treating his mental illness since he has been in jail.

Sherper told the court he wants to take responsibility for his actions and said he recognized that he narrowly avoided a tragedy.

“I think God was there that day, keeping us all relatively safe,” he said.

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