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Police Say Kevin Elberg May Have Been Drunk When He Beat Up Elderly Hmong Hunter

Elberg says he was acting in self-defense after Sao Lue Vang pointed a .22-caliber rifle at him

Elberg says he was acting in self-defense after Sao Lue Vang pointed a .22-caliber rifle at him

The police officer who first responded to a November 5 trespassing dispute in the woods of Wisconsin noted Kevin Elberg's breath had a "distinct odor of intoxicants" in a statement included in felony battery charges filed against Elberg.

Elberg, 43, denied drinking prior to the incident, in which Sao Lue Vang received internal injuries an emergency room doctor called "life-threatening," according to the Pepin County sheriff.

Last week Elberg, who is 21 years younger and about 70 pounds heavier than Vang, was charged with battery with intent to injure and false imprisonment by the Pepin County attorney. Both charges are felonies carrying a maximum sentence of six years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

See also: Family Demands Answers After Hunter Beat Unconscious in Woods of Wisconsin

Elberg says the trespassing dispute turned physical when Vang began raising his .22-caliber rifle at him, but Vang adamantly denies ever pointing his gun at Elberg.

According to the charges:

Sao Lue Vang spent three days at the Mayo Clinic recovering from his injuries

Sao Lue Vang spent three days at the Mayo Clinic recovering from his injuries

Vang, 64, was squirrel hunting on 17 acres of public land with two friends when he became separated from the group. Elberg was bow hunting on his parents' land when he saw Vang and tried to tell him he was trespassing.

Vang, who speaks little English, says he apologized and tried to move on; Elberg says Vang refused to acknowledge him and when he got within three feet of Vang, Vang began raising his rifle without warning.

Elberg says he batted the rifle away, tackled Vang, pinned him to the ground, and took his rifle away. He was dragging Vang to the nearest road when he slipped and Vang made a move for the rifle, resulting in another scuffle that left Vang with a deep cut on his hand.

Vang says he was kicked and punched until he temporarily lost consciousness, and that Elberg put his hand over Vang's mouth and nose in an attempt to suffocate him.

Elberg denies ever kicking or punching Vang, but he admitted to dropping his knee onto Vang's chest from a standing position to "make him stop wriggling" and " to prevent him from getting away."

Elberg called his parents and his mom came and helped Elberg load Vang into the back of a pickup truck. Then they drove to Elberg's parents' house to meet with Vang's hunting party and the police.

Police called an ambulance for Vang, and after an emergency room doctor in Wabasha declared Vang's lacerated liver "life-threatening" he was transported to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Vang spent three days in the hospital recovering.

Elberg is due to appear in Pepin County Court on December 15.

There's been a GoFundMe page, Facebook page and Change.org petition set up on behalf of Vang, and a rally was held in support of him and his family in Durand, Wisconsin, on December 5.