VIDEO: Veteran fires shot at crooks after break-in at American Legion Post in Wooster Twp.

Posted at 5:33 PM, Apr 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-05 20:26:12-04

A Vietnam veteran shot at crooks inside American Legion Post #68 in Wooster Township early Wednesday morning.

Don Bertsch, 76, told News 5 the scary ordeal got his adrenaline pumping, but he doesn't think the bullet struck either crook that bolted out a back door.

"You have that reaction — flee or fight — and with my training and everything, you don't flee. You fight," Bertsch said.

The dramatic incident was captured on a Wayne County deputy's body camera. The deputy had been assisting the vet search the building on Sylvan Road after an alarm sounded after 1 a.m.

Just off a reception hall, Bertsch heard noises and realized a light was on inside a storage room.

"I went to open the door up and was face-to-face with a person wearing a ski mask," Bertsch said. The intruder quickly closed the door.

The vet, who served 20 years in the Air Force, pushed the door back open and heard one of the men yell, "Don't shoot!"

But Bertsch fired one round from his 9mm revolver as the burglars ran out of the building.

On the video, Bertsch can be hear yelling, "Get on the God d*** floor. I'll blow you f****** head off."

After the shooting, the deputy screamed, "Sheriff's office! No!" He then said to Bertsch, "Don't shoot at them."

The thieves, who had broken into a safe holding ceremonial guns, disappeared into the night and haven't been identified. No guns were stolen, presumably because Bertsch interrupted the burglary in progress.

"I'm a combat veteran. It wouldn't be the first person I've shot at," Bertsch said. "I didn't see him flinch or anything, so I said to myself I probably missed him, but I didn't know for sure. I thought I was a better shot than that."

Captain Doug Hunter from the Wayne County Sheriff's Office said prosecutors will review the incident and video to determine if Bertsch was justified or should face charges.

"Deadly force is only justified when you can demonstrate that you are in fear of of your life," Hunter said. "There's probably not a lot of compassion for these particular individuals, but likewise we cannot have people using deadly force when it is not permitted."

Bertsch, who has a concealed carry permit, makes no apologies for his decision to pull the trigger.

"After thoughts, maybe I shouldn't I shouldn't have popped a round at him, but in the moment, I'd probably do it again."