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Bryan Horwath, Forum News Service, Published February 18 2014

Rural Dunn County man runs off unwanted guest with gunshots; sheriff can't find man claiming to be salesman

MANNING, N.D. – A self-proclaimed salesman who allegedly wouldn’t take no for an answer nearly received much more than he bargained for last month.

Rural Dunn County resident Daryl Semerad said a man claiming to be a “cancer insurance” salesman visited his house unannounced the evening of Jan. 21, beginning a tense situation that eventually led to Semerad discharging a handgun.

Dunn County Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Grove on Tuesday recalled the incident that deputies responded to, saying no alleged salesman was ever located.

“We documented the fact that a guy was possibly going around impersonating an insurance salesman, but that’s all we have at this point,” said Grove, who was at the scene. “The whole thing is still under investigation. From what we have, the homeowner shot toward the tires of the vehicle being driven by the alleged salesman.”

The sheriff’s office received word of the incident after 6 p.m. that evening, responding to Semerad’s residence a short time later, Grove said.

Semerad said he initially thought he was dealing with a pushy salesman, though he became suspicious when the man wouldn’t leave his property after repeated requests. At one point, Semerad said, the man stuck his foot in the front door of Semarad’s house to prevent him from closing it.

With his mood quickly changing from annoyed to feeling threatened, Semerad said he grabbed a mop handle and tried to shoo the man away, only to have the man take it from him.

“The situation was becoming threatening,” Semerad said. “To that point, that’s when I told him that I was going to get my gun.”

To Semerad’s amazement, he said, the man remained on the property, standing just off the front porch with the mop handle in hand. From that point, Semerad said he fired three shots from his pistol – two warning shots and one that he said “may have” hit the unwelcomed visitor’s vehicle.

“I think he was on something,” Semerad said. “It took him minutes to make up his mind to drop the mop handle, which he left on our driveway, and walk over to his vehicle. Everything he did was in super-slow motion. He had this grin on his face, and I didn’t know what he was going to do. Was he going to come at me? I didn’t know.”

Semerad reiterated Tuesday that he felt threatened that evening and believed the man could have meant him and his wife harm.

However, Grove said firing a weapon at someone who is fleeing would be considered a criminal act, potentially leading to a charge against Semerad. Fearing what the man might be capable of, however, Semerad said he was simply trying to protect his family, home and property.

“I gave him multiple warnings,” Semerad said. “You would think a person would get the hell out of there after I said I was going to get my gun. Maybe he was legit, I don’t know, but I didn’t know what his motives were. Never at any point did he show me any type of credentials at all.”

The alleged salesman was driving a dark red hatchback-style car or minivan, according to the statement Semerad gave to deputies. Dunn County Sheriff Clayton Coker said the vehicle has never been located and no suspect has been apprehended.

“You can’t just shoot at anybody you want to,” Grove said. “Whether any charges are ever filed, it’s still under investigation and it could take several months yet for us to decide if that’s the proper course of action. We just don’t want everybody grabbing a gun and shooting at someone they don’t want on the property.”

Grove said the sheriff’s office is still on the lookout for the alleged salesman, though there are no other reports from county residents of salespeople who won’t leave. Grove added that he encourages the public to get identification from people claiming to be on a sales call and to call 911 if they feel threatened.

In addition, door-to-door vendors legally need to have a permit through the county, according to the sheriff’s office.

“We were on edge that first week after it happened, but nobody has been back,” Semerad said. “We’re just making sure to lock our doors and have our yard lights on. Where we live, it’s a good 20 or 25 minutes that it takes a deputy to get out here.”