From: The Rockingham News, July 31, 1998.
Antagonism leads to shotgun blasts.
Police fear more confrontations between Minton and Scientologists
By Lara Bricker, Staff Writer
Sandown- Four members of the Church[sic] of Scientology filed a formal complaint against one of their most vocal critics for allegedly firing two shotgun blasts at them Saturday night.
Brian Smith and Pat Parker, of 91 Halls Mill Road, Newfields;
Gerard Renna, of Chestnut Street, Stoneham, Mass,; and Christopher Garrison, or Boston, Mass., filed the complaint against Robert Minton Wednesday afternoon, according to Sandown Police Chief Scott Currier. None of the protesters could be reached by phone Thursday.
Kevin Hall, human rights officer for the church[sic]'s Boston location, said Wednesday that some members of the church[sic] are upset with Minton for talking to the media and appearing on NBC's "Dateline" news magazine in June.
"We don't really like that he's spreading false data on the church[sic]," Hall said. "He's never been a Scientologist and he's blabbing off at the mouth, for one thing."
Currier doesn't anticipate any criminal charges will be filed in the matter, but admitted police are on the alert for more possible confrontations between Minton and the church[sic], which could result in harm to Minton.
"They (picketers) were looking for trouble and I think they found it," Currier said Thursday. "We are prepared for the worst, I don't know what to expect from any of them at this point."
Minton was out of town Thursday and couldn't be reached as to whether he will file a trespassing complaint against the protesters.
While picketers have been routinely protesting outside Minton's Boston home since last November, this is the first such incident at his summer home at 137 Fremont Road, Minton said Tuesday.
Minton allegedly asked the four picketers and a private detective with them to leave his property and when the didn't he fired two rounds from a 12-guage shotgun, Currier said.
Minton claims the shots were a warning and done to let the protesters know "this was not cool." "I'm not out to kill anybody," Minton said. "they're so lucky it's not Texas; there you shoot first and ask questions later."
Currier said he was aware of the fued between the Church[sic] of Scientology and Minton.
"Mr. Minton has been in, in the past, to let us know that there could eventually be some problems up there between himself and the Church[sic] of Scientology," Currier said.
Officer Ben Pinault reported seeing the protesters outside Minton's house at about 6:20PM. Pinault went back at about 8PM and, upon noticing the picketers were gone, went to inquire about Minton's well-being, Currier said.
Minton told Pinault he had fired the shots after at least two of the church[sic] members came onto his property.
Minton said Tuesday he initially did not even know the protesters were at his house as he was in his back yard. Minton said he and a former member of the Church[sic] of Scientology, Stacy Young, were in the pool.
He said he saw the picketers and asked them who the were.
"They said "We're here to protest your activities against the Church[sic] of Scientology," Minton said.
Minton said he then asked them to leave by telling them, "you are standing on my (expletive deleted) property, get off".
He admits he wasn't very polite in asking them to get off his land, but felt he was well within his rights to ask them to leave.
Minton said the picketers then made a comment about himself and Young as they were leaving.
According to Minton, the picketers left his driveway, but he saw them pulling into the field next to his house. He said he thought to himself, "what were they turning around for?"
Minton pointed out the stonewall he had stood atop with his shotgun, Thursday afternoon. He explained the protesters car was on the right-hand side of the field near the road, and he fired off into the left-hand side of field, away from them and up in the air. Minton admits he has what he called a "totally antagonistic relationship with these people."
At about 9PM, Pineault head what he thought to be more shots from the area of Minton's house.
"Knowing there had been a confrontation earlier, he called for backup from Fremont, Danville, Chester and the state police," Currier said.
The Rockingham County dispatch called Minton's house and asked him to step outside, police said.
Minton said he saw about six police cruisers with flashing lights in front of his house. He said when police asked him to step out front with his hands in the air, he became belligerent.
"I'm in my bathrobe, with my swimming suit on," Minton said by way of explanation.
Minton said he asked the police, "what the (expletive deleted) is going on here?"
He said he was told he was being handcuffed for his own safety. He remained handcuffed for about 20 minutes, he said, leaning against the side of his car. He denies shooting off any more shots. "I remember I was leaning against the glass," Minton said.
Currier said Minton's gun was confiscated by the police for the night for safe keeping.
The Church[sic] of Scientology paints a different version of the events last Saturday. Hall said Minton is out to destroy the church[sic].
As to why Minton decided to fire his shotgun, Hall conjectures that the pressure of the situation just got the better of him. "I think he freaked out." Hall said.
The private investigator, Mike Middleton, was with the protesters, the church[sic] member said, to give more credibility to the event should he be called as an expert witness at any time.
Middleton is an outside investigator hired by the church[sic], but is not a member, Hall said.
By filing the complaint, Hall said he hoped it would send a message that one man shouldn't be allowed to go around shooting at people. "We didn't shoot at him when he was out front of our church[sic] protesting," Hall said. "If we did, he could have pressed charges."
Minton said he found a dead cat on his door step earlier in the year and believes it was an attempt by the church[sic] to punish him for helping Young, who runs a cat sanctuary.
Hall denies any involvement by the church[sic] in the cat incident. "He probably killed it," the church[sic] member said.
Currier said he is obviously not pleased with the events that took place, and warned that both sides were pushing their luck. "They need to keep their arguments in the courtroom and stay professional about it and not involve the rest of the community by picketing in the street or discharging firearms," Currier said.
[Picture of Bob Minton with caption: "I'm not out to kill anybody. They're so lucky it's not Texas; there you shoot first and ask questions later."]