A Hmong man accused of killing six hunters and wounding two others said Thursday that he feared for his life as he was confronted for trespassing.
Chai Soua Vang, who came to the United States from Laos more than 20 years ago, said he began shooting after he thought one of the hunters had shot at him and the others were going for more guns.
As he stood on the witness stand, Vang pretended he had a rifle in his arms and detailed the order in which he shot at them. He said he reloaded his gun twice.
Two survivors of the shooting testified that no shots were fired at Vang before he started shooting.
The truck driver from St. Paul, Minn., is charged with six counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. If convicted, he could face mandatory life in prison.
On Thursday, Vang, 36, said he was lost in the isolated Sawyer County woods on Nov. 21, found a tree stand he thought was on public property and climbed into it to get the lay of the land. He said Terry Willers approached him and told him he was on private property and should climb down.
As he walked away, Vang said he heard all-terrain vehicles in the distance and moved faster because he thought they were coming after him. One pulled in front of him and another behind him, he said.
Vang said that Robert Crotteau and his son got off one ATV, and that Crotteau swore at him, used racial slurs and asked whether he knew he was trespassing.
"I thought they were going to beat me or something," Vang said.
Vang said he kept trying to walk away, then looked back and saw Willers take the rifle off his shoulder and point it at him. He said he dropped to his right and heard a shot. "In my mind, he shot at me and missed," Vang said.
Vang said he shot Willers twice. Vang said that everyone else began to scatter, and that he thought they were going for a gun case on the back of one of the ATVs. "I started charging," he said.