Charges: Mankato man points gun at pair after calling them racial slur

(Mankato, MN) – A Mankato man is facing felony charges after he allegedly pointed a gun at two people at a gas station and called them a racial slur.

Fifty-four-year-old Paul Gary Near was charged Friday in Blue Earth County Court with felony counts of 2nd degree assault with a dangerous weapon and threats of violence.

According to the complaint, Near pulled up next to a van at the gas pumps at the SuperAmerica on Riverfront Drive August 14, laughed, and said “get the f**k out of the way n***er,” to the two occupants in the van.  The victims left the gas station to go to Taco John’s, later realizing they were traveling behind the Near’s vehicle on Riverfront Drive.

The victims told police that Near pointed a gun at them, which appeared to be a black Glock .45, then exited onto Highway 14.

A SuperAmerica employee later called police to report the incident.   A witness at the gas station said that Near had identified himself as a police officer and said he had a gun when he came into the store to pay for his gas.

When Near was questioned by police, he told officers he was a former policeman, according to court documents.  He eventually admitted he was actually a security guard and not a police officer.  Near said he felt threatened after one of the victims approached him twice about a parking issue near the SuperAmerica.  He admitted that he’d had a gun in his vehicle, but said it was in the backseat in a case.  He agreed to let officers retrieve the gun from his vehicle, but then got in himself and removed a gun case.  Near said he never pointed the gun at anyone.

Shortly after officers left, Near drove to Public Safety to make an additional statement about police altercations with “colored men” and having to justify using force.  Near returned again on August 15 and said he wanted to come clean, then admitted he did take his gun out, grabbed it, and “hung it out the window,” according to the complaint.

In court documents, police noted several inconsistencies with Near’s story, including the surveillance video footage that showed Near approaching the victims, the opposite of what he’d told police.

Near is due in court on November 15.

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