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Nimrod native recovers from St. Cloud shooting

Considering two bullets pierced his abdomen March 29, Wadena County native James Gackstetter is doing pretty well.

“I could be dead or in a wheelchair,” the 2002 Sebeka graduate said in a phone interview Monday. “I’m extremely conscious of how fortunate I am.”

Released after six days in the hospital, Gackstetter is now recovering at his St. Cloud home. Emergency surgery removed a foot of his small intestine and, because one bullet nicked his bladder, he needed a catheter. One bullet shattered his index finger before entering his abdomen.

“Things have gone about as well as they could have,” Gackstetter said. “I got out of the hospital faster than anybody thought I would.”

During his bartending shift March 29, Gackstetter, who also serves as head of security at the Press Bar in St. Cloud, asked a woman he knew to be underage for her ID. When she refused, he kicked her out, along with her twin sister and a man who bought the women shots.

Gackstetter followed them outside, intending to flag down a cop. The expelled trio started shouting obscenities and spitting in Gackstetter’s face.

Then the man, who St. Cloud police have identified as Cordney Terell Holmes of Mississippi, produced a .38 caliber gun, and fired six shots at close range, according to the criminal complaint.

“He took off, I was in shock, so I turned and just walked away,” Gackstetter said.

Friends and strangers helped put pressure on the wound until ambulances arrived and brought him to St. Cloud Hospital.

A short time after the shooting, police arrested Holmes three blocks from the scene. In Stearns County District Court last week, Holmes was charged with second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. The judge set unconditional bail at $2 million.

Gackstetter said he just wants to see justice served.

“I’m not carrying around any hate in my heart” he said. “That doesn’t get you anywhere. That just makes you miserable.”

Gackstetter said his friends from Sebeka and Nimrod - who know how to use a gun - would find the suspect’s pathetic aim pretty funny.

“He was five feet away and he could only hit me two out of six times,” Gackstetter said.

He’ll likely be asked to tell the story and show off his scars when he comes home for Nimrod Days, his favorite time of the year.

“I’ve got enough stories now,” he said. “I think I’m going to retire from the collecting stories part of my life.”