Councilman Speaks Out After Being Arrested

11:44 PM, Feb 1, 2013   |    comments
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Elgin, SC (WLTX) - An Elgin Councilman is speaking out after he was arrested for vandalizing a shooting range.

Kershaw County deputies say "Bubba" Ernst was arrested for malicious injury to property- The catch is, he owns the property and was leasing it to Clifford Firearms and Gun Range.

"I picked up this door and moved it over there and I picked up the other door and put it on it's side, there wasn't even a splinter that came loose," said Elgin Councilman Bubba Ernst.

Ernst says that patrons of the Clifford gun range were careless, shooting bullets through the fence near a busy highway and his business; a car repair shop. After the problem continued, Ernst filed a ten day notice of eviction.

"It said on the 25th of January, it becomes my property again if he hasn't vacated," said Ernst.

He says after the notice was sent, no one was at the range for more than a week, so he decided to remove the doors and put the gun range materials inside. Kershaw Sheriff Jim Matthews says the eviction was not final after the 10 day notice.

"He has to apply for a 24 hour follow up notice. He waited for four days after to do that and within that four day period is when this incident that he was arrested for occurred," said Sheriff Jim Matthews.

Ernst believes those around the property were put in danger after getting complaints from neighbors about the stray bullets.

"If you look behind this vandalism, you can see the holes that hit this fence, my grandchild is over there, my customers and everyone I love," said Ernst.

Sheriff Mathews says he doesn't agree with a gun range being so close to a busy highway and businesses but the law allows it. He says Ernst is the one who made the agreement to rent his land.

"This man entered a lease agreement with Mr. Ernst, Mr. Ernst had full knowledge of what was going on and this range has been in operation for a long time," said Mathews.

Ernst is confident that the judge's ruling says that the property was his after 10 days. He feels that there was no vandalism and the department is targeting him.

"I don't know of any other property owner that the sheriff's department would have even done that to, because no damage has been made," said Ernst.

The two sides will go to court over the issue. Sherriff Mathews says that everything was done by the book and says his department did not target Ernst.






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