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Albany County man charged in campground shooting

LARAMIE (WNE) — An Albany County man shot a stranger late last month at the Willow Campground west of Centennial, according to charging documents filed by Albany County prosecutors.

John Howitt had been camping at the site for five days when he shot someone in the leg after dark on July 24, according to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.

Howitt told sheriff’s deputies that a visibly intoxicated man had frightened him, and he shot at the man’s leg in self-defense. Officials have not released the name of the man who was shot.

Howitt told police that the man had acted belligerently toward him earlier in the night, then returned later at night. The man rubbed against a car that Howitt was sleeping inside and threatened to beat him up, Howitt said.

Howitt claimed he shot the man once in the leg when he was within an arm’s reach of the rear passenger-side door. He said he feared for his life when he shot.

The victim told police he had not had a confrontation with anyone that night, and he never met Howitt. He had arrived at the campground less than half an hour before and taken his dog for a walk.  He said he was walking down a road in the campground when he felt a sharp pain in his left hip area and realized he’d been shot.  The victim denied he was drunk or otherwise intoxicated at the time.

Sheriff’s deputies inspected the scene of the shooting and determined Howitt’s story of a confrontation was likely not true, according to court documents.

Howitt has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.