Shortly after midnight on Aug. 3, Cass County authorities said 25-year-old Ryan J. Martin allegedly fired shots inside his son’s bedroom at his Gunn City home. Martin told authorities that someone had been trying to break in through a window.
When deputies arrived on scene, they found no intruder. Records indicated deputies found no signs of breaking and entering at the house in the 37000 block of East Zook Street.
It was the third time this year deputies have visited the home for suspicious activity, only to find bullet holes, no suspects and the gun owner, a man identified in court documents as Martin.
No arrests were made in the previous incidents, but this time, authorities allegedly found one of four bullet holes less than a foot away from a crib. Inside the crib was a sleeping baby, Martin’s 7-month-old son. The baby was not injured and appeared to be in good health, a deputy observed. A neighbor said on Wednesday the baby was with a family member in St. Joseph.
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Martin was arrested that night, and is now facing a first-degree charge of endangering the welfare of a child, a felony.
On Wednesday, Martin made his first court appearance in the case, and the court entered a not guilty plea. An attorney for Martin was not listed, and attempts to reach Martin’s family were unsuccessful.
Court records indicate the Aug. 3 incident happened at Martin’s home in Garden City, though the home is located about nine miles north in a rural Cass County community known as Gunn City.
One woman, awake on the night of the incident, said she had heard gunshots coming from Martin’s home. She went up to the front of the house to see what was going on. Then she heard another gunshot — louder this time — from a window on the side of the house. Witnesses, who asked not to be named due to safety concerns, described it as a frightening situation. Neighbors took cover and called 911.
Neighbors believe the shooting incidents that have happened in the past four months pose a safety risk for the small community.
A woman who lives in one of the dozens of houses located in Gunn City, said the area is usually quiet with the exception of homeowners who occasionally fire shots toward coyotes. The neighbor said she’s lived in the area for at least three years, and has been concerned for the safety of her children and other children who normally spend their days outside, riding bicycles on the gravel roads and playing in the yard.
“I’m fed up,” she said. She points to a tree in her yard grazed by bullet, allegedly from one of Martin’s guns. “He’s shooting at people who aren’t even there, he’s putting kids in danger.”
According to a probable cause statement signed by Deputy James Rew, deputies from the Cass County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to Martin’s home on East Zook Street at 12:20 a.m. Aug. 3 in reference to a call of shots fired.
When they arrived, deputies setup on the east and west sides of the house and attempted to reach Martin multiple times with negative results. Records said one deputy, using a PA speaker, was able to get Martin to come out of the home.
When deputies asked what happened, Martin allegedly told authorities, “They came back again.”
Martin went on to tell law enforcement that he was asleep on a couch in the living room and woke up when he heard a cracking sound coming from his son’s bedroom. Martin said he believed someone was trying to break the latch to the window with a crowbar.
The man said he then went into his son’s room, heard the screen go up on the window and saw a “black silhouette” taking a step inside the room from the window onto a rocking chair sitting nearby.
Martin said he fired one round at the silhouette and fired three more after it had left. He told deputies he was shooting to protect his son.
Deputies said they found four bullet holes, including one near the baby’s crib. Records said there were three large diameter bullet holes in the window glass as well as one hole in the siding just below the window. The window was closed, and law enforcement on scene didn’t observe any signs of a person trying to open it from the outside.
In addition to the bullet holes, authorities also found a brown and black Savage armed 12-gauge shotgun and a Smith and Wesson 380 caliber pistol sitting on a coffee table.
At one point on scene, a deputy said Martin knocked on one of the patrol vehicles, claiming to have seen people running along his fence between his house and garage. The deputy looked in the area, but said he saw nobody.
Aside from Martin, deputies also spoke with a woman, identified in court documents as Brianda Montoya, who said she was asleep inside the home when the incident happened. Montoya said she normally sleeps on the floor of the baby’s room, and heard the gunshots that night. Records did not say what Montoya’s relation is to the infant.
Court documents said deputies also asked the Montoya about Martin’s state of mind. The woman told authorities Martin has anxiety.
The sheriff’s office checked local records and found three other incident reports documented from calls to the house.
On April 14, a deputy went to the house close to 4 a.m. in reference to a report of suspicious activity. Authorities said Martin “fired multiple rounds at a suspicious person and believed he hit multiple parties.” The incident report said three rounds were fired from a shotgun and seven rounds from a 9mm handgun. No one was injured and no evidence was found to suggest there were any suspects.
About three months later, deputies were called out again, this time in regard to a “disorderly party.” Deputies said Martin and a woman had gotten into a verbal argument. The woman left the residence for the night.
Weeks later, at 1:30 a.m. July 27, deputies said Martin fired his gun again at what he said were people trying to break into his house. The report said deputies, again, found no evidence of a break-in. No one was injured.
In the probable cause statement, Deputy Rew said he believed Martin is “a risk to the community as he has fired multiple rounds out of his residence at persons that were not there.”
Martin remained in the county jail by Friday with bail set at $10,000. Online court records indicate the court ordered Martin not to possess firearms.
A case review is scheduled Oct. 12.