Sandstone man, 75, used gun to fend off drug-seeking burglars, authorities say

Both Gypsy Watts (pictured) and his alleged teen accomplice have criminal records.
Both Gypsy Watts (pictured) and his alleged teen accomplice have criminal records.

-- Correction at bottom --

A 16-year-old boy from Markville, Minnesota, faces first-degree burglary charges in connection with a home invasion that culminated in the death of his gun-toting accomplice.

SEE ALSO: Byron Smith murder case: Was he under threat of great harm when he shot teenagers?

Authorities say the boy and Gypsy Watts, 23, broke into 75-year-old Charles Carlson's Sandstone house around 2 a.m. last Thursday in search of prescription drugs and whatever else they could get their hands on. But the attempted burglary ended in Watts's death after the cancer-stricken Carlson broke out a gun of his own.

The robbery scheme was allegedly hatched earlier that night at a party where Watts and the 16-year-old discussed the likelihood of Carlson having drugs and money in his house. The two commandeered a van owned by another party-goer and took off for Carlson's Fox Road place.

KARE 11, citing charges filed Friday, details authorities' version of happened from there:

Carlson told investigators he was sleeping on the porch when he was startled awake, looked up, and saw a man walking out of the porch and into his kitchen. He says he walked into the kitchen to see what was going on and saw a man, now identified as Watts, pointing a gun at his head. Carlson says he pretended to be blind and hard of hearing to buy himself some time, and at one point saw [the 16-year-old suspect] run out of the house...

Carlson told detectives that Watts lowered his gun and began talking, allowing him time to grab his own handgun. He pointed the Glock 9mm at Watts and told him to get on his knees with his hands behind his head. Watts complied, but eventually stood up and began walking towards the elderly man.

It was then that Carlson shot Watts in the leg. The homeowner maintains that Watts ran out of the house, then turned and pointed the gun at him again. Carlson says he then fired the fatal shot that struck Gypsy Watts in the head.

Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole spoke with Carlson and told Fox 9, "He feels terrible."

"He's an old guy. He's a guy that I know," Cole continued. "He's a nice guy, and it's a terrible thing to have to do this."

WDIO reports that Carlson has prescriptions to relieve pain related to a cancer diagnosis.

The teen suspect turned himself in on Friday, but the KARE report details how he reacted immediately after the botched burglary:

The teen says he ran from the home after Carlson woke up and pointed a gun at his friend, ran to the van which was parked nearby, and escaped the scene. He later abandoned the van, ran back to the party and told others about what had happened.

The 16-year-old told investigators he gave Carlson's $100 bill to a friend, who took it to a local convenience store for change.

Pine County Chief Deputy Sheriff Steven Blackwell told the Star Tribune all indications are that Carlson acted lawfully.

"We're not finding anything that would indicate any wrongdoing on the homeowner's part," he said.

-- Correction -- An earlier version of this piece misidentified the Pine County town in which Carlson's home is located.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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