This morning, Brandon Bougades was cited by the Colorado Springs Police Department for reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct. The problem? Bougades was shooting his new handgun and shotgun inside Garden of the Gods at around 3 a.m. when residents called the police.
Combine guns with a beloved landmark, and you've got the makings of a genuine shitstorm.
"To me, the destruction and mindless danger caused by idiots like this is the single biggest problem caused by (some) gun owners today," reads one comment on the Gazette's piece. "Shooting at a public park is criminal," reads another.
And they're right, there. Colorado Springs code 9.7.104 reads, "It is unlawful for any person to wrongfully fire or discharge any cannon, gun, pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, air gun, BB gun, gas operated gun, spring gun, or firearm within the City."
However, Bougades, a resident of Colorado Springs for all of two weeks now, tells the Independent it really was just a misunderstanding.
"I'm prior-service military, getting out on medical retirement, highly trained with firearms," the 31-year-old says in a phone interview. "I've done range-safety courses and classes, and ran ranges, making sure everybody stays safe, and I applied the same training out there. I made sure all my rounds were pointed in a safe direction; I know which direction all my rounds were landing. I was shooting towards a rock face. I was between 150 to 200 meters away with a nine [millimeter] and a 12-gauge shotgun that had buckshot in it, so I wasn't hitting anything, and I wasn't doing any damage or anything like that, which I knew."
Sounding exasperated, Bougades adds, "I didn't even hit the rocks. A nine millimeter at 150 to 200 meters, it's probably not even gonna make it that far."
The (almost) former Army man says he thought "as long as you're safe and you're not dumb, or whatever," it was fine to shoot in any open area. As far as CSPD's statement that "officers reported nearly being struck by several of the rounds that appeared to be ricocheting off of the park’s rock formations," Bougades says that would have been impossible based on how far away any rocks were.
"Honestly, I just thought it was OK once you got out into the open areas, and apparently it's not," he says.
Outside of all that, though, the man on terminal-leave from the military, set to formally move on any day now, plans to study web development at Colorado Technical University. This is after he did 15 months in Iraq, and another four in Afghanistan before being wounded by an IED on his birthday.
And though a small blip in the news universe, this latest development has grabbed locals' attention, with the Gazette's recap being shared more than 340 times and attracting 40-plus comments on Facebook.
"But I mean, like I said: This thing has gotten just blown way out of proportion," Bougades says. "Like, I have no history of violence or anything like that. I've never had any felonies whatsoever. I honestly just didn't know — just ignorance on my behalf."