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Charges: Men argue as they wait for drug deal, one shoots other in legs

A 29-year-old man has been charged with 2nd-degree assault.
Austin Webster

A 29-year-old man has been charged with assault following a shooting that left the victim limping along the shoulder of I-35 near Duluth.

Austin Webster, of Esko, is facing 2nd-degree assault charges after a planned drug deal descended into an argument and eventually a shooting on Sunday, April 10.

Police were alerted to the incident by the victim, who was flagging down cars as he limped along the I-35 shoulders south of the Proctor exit. 

He had been shot in both legs, with deputies finding six .45 bullet casings near Ormsby Road and Thompson Hill Road, the latter of which is a frontage road that runs parallel to I-35 southwest of Duluth.

The victim said he had been picked up by Webster and a woman earlier in the day, and Webster had driven them to Ormsby Road, which is a dirt road facing Thompson Hill Road and the interstate, for the purpose of setting up a drug sale.

The victim told police he "got sick of waiting" and got out of the car, with the woman then accusing him of being a cop. This upset the victim, who "yelled" at the woman and then walked away from the vehicle.

He looked back and saw Webster had a large aerosol can – later confirmed to be bear mace – and "an object that may have been a gun." Webster and the woman moved towards him, with the woman saying: "You call me a f****** b****."

The victim says he then ran away but then felt a "sudden pain in his legs." He realized he'd been shot. He climbed the fence separating Thompson Hill Road from I-35 and started trying to flag cars down.

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According to the complaint, the victim had a hole in one leg from a bullet, and a bullet lodged in the other. He also said he felt like he'd been maced.

Webster was found after witnesses reported seeing someone matching his description driving in the area of Spirit Mountain.

"Witnesses reported that the Defendant and [the woman] were acting in an erratic manner, rubbing snow in their faces" in a parking lot off West Skyline Parkway, which the woman later told police was to counteract the effects of the bear mace.

The woman claimed during questioning that the victim and Webster had got into a confrontation before the shooting, but the complaint notes her "story changed a few times and her version was not supported with the physical evidence that deputies located at the scene."

Webster has also been charged with felon in possession of a firearm.

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