Man arrested for firing gun during argument at Port Charlotte pier

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A Sunday morning scuffle over fishing at the Port Charlotte Beach Complex pier led to the arrest of a 73-year-old man who deputies say fired his gun twice at another man.

Kenneth Smith faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill and discharging a firearm in public.

It happened at around 6:15 a.m. on Sunday, when, according to an arrest report, Smith became upset with a man who was walking on the pier toward the shore to drag his line around.

Smith is accused of cursing at the man before threatening him with a gun and reaching into his pocket. The man ran at Smith and grabbed his wrist while Smith held a gun, firing two shots at the man.

The bullets missed the victim but hit a pylon. The man wrestled the gun away from Smith, and a friend of the victim took the gun and put it in his vehicle for authorities.

The victim told authorities that Smith had once bragged about threatening to shoot others while fishing, including one incident in Punta Gorda where he threatened someone with a gun who he said was attempting to steal his bait box.

There was also an incident in 2019 where Smith brandished a gun at a visiting nurse in his home. Smith said it was because the nurse was “VC,” according to authorities.

Smith denied threatening the man at the pier and instead said the man had attacked him.

“I didn’t threaten them! I’m telling you, I was putting my stuff away, I can’t hear, he’s rattling off something, and he like a maniac! And that’s when the fight was on,” Smith said. “And that’s why you carry.”

The victim in this case was able to intervene, said Mark VanderWaag, with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

“Take his firearm from him and during that scuffle approximately two rounds were fired, striking the fishing pier,” VanderWaag said.

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