Plea agreement reached for East Grand Forks man facing dangerous weapons charges

Michael James Powers
Michael James Powers(Tri-County Corrections)
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 4:39 PM CDT
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EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. (Valley News Live) - A man accused of firing a .22 caliber rifle within city limits, accidentally hitting his neighbors’’ home, has reached a plea agreement in the case.

Michael James Powers was charged with reckless discharge of a firearm within city limits and recklessly handling/using a weapon. Powers pleaded guilty on Tuesday, March 28, to reckless discharge of a firearm within city limits. According to Powers’ attorney, the second charge will be dropped at sentencing in April.

Court documents say officers were dispatched to a home in East Grand Forks on December 4 after the homeowners noticed bullet holes on the back of the house that appeared to be from a BB. They also noticed a hole in the window of their son’s bedroom and found a bullet on the window ledge inside the room.

A total of six rounds hit the house; five in the siding and one in the window. When officers went to Powers’ home, he admitted that he was shooting at a red squirrel on top of his bird feeder and had missed.

Court documents say Powers told officers he has been shooting at the bird feeder for a couple of years now and he would like to talk to the neighbor to “make it right.” Powers also told officers if he knew he was hitting the house, he would have stopped.

Powers has served on the East Grand Forks and Polk County planning commissions, as well as the Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Metropolitan Planning Organization. The Mayor of East Grand Forks, Steve Gander, wrote a letter to the court vouching for Powers’ good character and his contributions to the city and county.

“Mike has shown the ability to balance the benefit of the individual with that of the greater good on repeated occasions. He has shown excellent judgment in the areas of land use, zoning, building codes, and in solving disputes between neighbors, developers, and other affected parties. He has kept cool head in heated debates and has contributed to equitable and fair outcomes,” Gander wrote.

“I find it odd that sometimes people are sentenced to ‘community service’ in lieu of jail time or other penalties. Mike is already there serving our community beyond what any of us could ask. Please allow him to continue in these roles by reducing the charge to avoid a felony conviction, even while holding him accountable for his actions,” Gander wrote.

The East Grand Forks City Administrator, David Murphy, also wrote a letter to the court saying Powers is extremely dedicated to the Planning Commission, takes pride in the process and researches issues the Planning Commission faces.

Powers will be sentenced on April 18. Court records state he is ordered to pay $2,642.94 in restitution for damages to property.