Man of Steel

Residents can't believe the bail bondsman down the block in the quiet Victory neighborhood has the right to wrap his house with bullet-blocking sheet metal

Karin Cole lives across the street from Gustafson. "The old people are very intimidated," she says. "I like the neighborhood, I like my neighbors. I would hate to leave because of one house." But she's concerned that the metal screens are bringing down property values in the neighborhood. Ultimately, she says, "I just would want him to take down the sheets of iron and have the house back to a normal house."

Nell Bean, a building-inspection supervisor with the City of Minneapolis, says that, provided Gustafson meets standards for lighting and ventilation, and has operable egress windows in sleeping rooms (steps he has agreed to take), he's in compliance with city code. "He has a permit. He indicated to me he's going to make cutouts in the steel where the windows are," says Bean. "So then it's a nonissue for us. There's no code that specifically says you can't put steel plates in front of your house."

Indeed, there's a building permit taped to Gustafson's front door. "It says siding, windows, and doors. That's what I'm replacing," he says. "I'm complying with the city ordinances."

Ironclad defense: Joe Gustafson says he swathed his house in steel plates in an attempt to protect himself
Daniel Corrigan
Ironclad defense: Joe Gustafson says he swathed his house in steel plates in an attempt to protect himself

Gustafson says that he never intended to "piss off anyone", and he's angry that none of his neighbors has inquired as to his welfare. "None of the neighbors seem to be concerned about me being shot at," says Gustafson. "Those bullets were coming into my house," he says. "Not out of my house. I almost got killed here."

"If the neighbors don't like it," he says, "there's not much I can do about it."

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My Voice Nation Help

I don't understand why everyone is so concerned about the sheet metal. If he is having people shoot into his house, I think it is a great idea. He is just protecting himself. If his line of work causes that type of trouble, then he can take whatever precautions he should. I think the sheet metal surrounding the house is a good idea. 

Jen Kirk |