Those of you who don't follow us on the Facebook missed a bit of a discussion about whether Craig Cobb and his redneck buddy were properly arrested last weekend. The Bismarck Tribune's story was entitled "Cobb taken into custody for toting guns in Leith." My Facebook comment suggested "Toting Guns" is not a crime in North Dakota. I stand by that.

But that's apparently not what Cobb and his buddy were arrested for. I'm not a regular reader of the Tribune or its website, so I don't know whether they've written a correction to their misleading story title, if not the entire story. I thought I'd fill in the gaps.

Craig Cobb is not charged with "Gun Toting." He's charged with seven (7) counts of "terrorizing" in violation of North Dakota Century Code section 12.1-17-04. a Class C felony. The maximum penalty for a person convicted of a Class C felony in North Dakota is up to five years in prison, a fine of ten thousand dollars, or both. The complaint alleges there is a mandatory minimum two (2) year sentence (with no parole) for a conviction under NDCC 12.1-32-02.1. NDCC 12.1-32-02.1 sets mandatory minimum sentences for "armed offenders." It sets the minimum at two (2) years for armed offenders who commit Class C felonies.

I'll walk you through the seven terrorizing counts, summarizing my perceptions of what they're about, with a very brief analysis. At the end of this, I'll provide a link to the actual criminal Complaint so you can read it for yourself. Maybe you'll disagree with my characterizations and/or analysis.

Count 1: On November 16th, 2013, Cobb allegedly walked up to the property of Leland Cook "in a terrorizing manner" with a loaded, long-barreled weapon. Cobb's finger was on the trigger. Cobb watched Cook installing a security system on his property. There is no indicating this count involves any kind of verbal threat, "gun-levelling," trespass or other noted behavior. I don't see any clear indication from the Complaint as to what constituted Cobb's "terrorizing manner."

Count 2: On November 16, 2013, Cobb allegedly walked up to the property of Leland Cook "in a terrorizing manner" with a loaded, long-barreled weapon. Cobb "continued" watching Cook install the security system while Cobb's finger was on the trigger. This count also mentions that another party -- Gregory Bruce -- was with Cook. Otherwise it appears to be a repeat of Count 1. Again, no indication here as to what Cobb did that was done in a "terrorizing manner."

Count 3: On November 16, 2013, Cobb allegedly followed "Miller Ferrie" along a road to her home while carrying a loaded, long barreled weapon. Cobb allegedly followed Ferrie until she reached her home.

Count 4: On November 16, 2013, Cobb allegedly walked up to the home of Paul and Miller Ferrie and stood outside while holding a loaded, long-barreled weapon. This count alleges that at one point, Cobb "did raise the weapon from a vertical position to a horizontal position." Cobb is alleged to have had his gun "at the 'ready position' as he stated 'I'm not shooting you, am I? Fuck you." (My apologies for Cobb's language.)

Count 5: On November 16, 2013, Cobb is alleged to have approached "Barry Striegel in a terrorizing manner with a gun slung over his shoulder." Again, as with all the other counts, there are no specifics provided to explain what constituted the "terrorizing manner" of Cobb.

Count 6: On November 16, 2013, Cobb is alleged to have "approached Akriti Haberstroh in her vehicle in Leith, while screaming obscenities at her and wielding a cane at her in a threatening manner."

Count 7: On November 16, 2013, Cobb is alleged to have approached "Bethany Haberstroh, a passenger in a vehicle driven by her daughter, Akriti Haberstroh" while screaming the aforementioned obscenities and wielding the cane "at them" in a threatening manner.

Click here to read the Complaint

Law enforcement also provided two separate affidavits in support of the Complaint. You can read the affidavit of Grant County Sheriff Steve Bay by clicking here, and the affidavit of Deputy Garrett Harding by clicking here.

I still don't know, guys. I definitely still think this Cobb character is an ass. But being an ass isn't a crime. I'm still not sure whether anything Cobb is accused of in this Complaint -- based upon the information provided in the Complaint and in the affidavits -- is or should be enough to send a guy away to the penitentiary for a mandatory-minimum two year sentence. Once again, there may be more to these charges and these allegations. But thus far I just don't see a C Felony in what's been alleged.

Let's be clear: this is a "terrorizing" case; it is not a "gun" case. There does not appear to be anything in the "gun" chapter of the North Dakota Century Code -- Chapter 62.1 -- that prohibits Cobb from doing anything he did in Leith. That's why Cobb isn't charged with a gun crime. You might not like what he did -- walking around town with loaded long-barrel guns -- but that doesn't make it illegal. It might be illegal in some other town, but -- unless there's a city ordinance to the contrary -- it doesn't appear to be illegal in Leith.

Based upon what I've seen so far, these charges look to me like law enforcement may be trying to get a conviction for
"anticipated attempt to commit terrorizing."
But that's not a crime. I don't know that they have sufficient evidence to show that Cobb terrorized people. It doesn't appear he attempted to terrorize. I think everybody is anticipating he is going to attempt to terrorize people, and so that fear of what he might do is scaring them. But I don't know that a person should be convicted of a felony based upon other peoples' fear of that person, and not on the conduct (and specific intent) of the accused person.

I'm guessing the folks in Leith are pretty scared of this guy. But that doesn't mean that -- until they pass a city ordinance making it illegal to do so -- Cobb can't walk around with a loaded long-barreled gun in their town if he wants to. Following in someone's path isn't a crime. There's no indication he was chasing anybody. He said "Fuck you" to someone. Still not a crime. Telling someone you're "not shooting" them isn't a crime. "Levelling a gun" isn't necessarily terrorizing. (That depends on whether you're leveling it AT someone, I think.) I'm not sure how waving a cane around and using obscenities is terrorizing. I suppose it could be, depending on what he was saying. But they really don't tell us what he was saying. (Read Sheriff Bay's affidavit, and you'll see Cobb apparently thought these people were trying to run over his dog, and that's why he was using obscenities. I might swear at someone if I thought they were trying to run over my dog, too.)

I totally understand how people could perceive this is a legitimate effort to stop these awful people before they hurt someone. But, generally, our legal system isn't set up to anticipate when someone is going to commit a crime and then throw them in prison to try to stop them from commiting the crime when there isn't any evidence they had done a crime yet.

I could be wrong. What I'm writing here may be unpopular with some of you. That's fine. (Sorry.) I trust someone will tell me if I am completely wrong here. But I'm trying to look at this from the perspective of someone who doesn't want innocent people convicted of crimes, and whose job it is to protect against that.

Again, it appears these people are terrible people. I just haven't yet been convinced they committed the crime they're accused of committing. I'm still open to the possibility there's more to one or all of these allegations. I'm just not seeing it in the affidavits or the Complaint.

Again, I'd welcome others' input on this. I'd like to be told I'm missing something here by someone who knows more than I do. Have at it.