Heim Convicted Of Shooting At Geocachers

The American man accused of shooting at a group of geocachers and wounding a 13-year-old boy in the leg has been found guilty of assaulting two men with a gun, it has been reported.

After a day of deliberation, a jury found 71-year-old Manuel Soria Heim guilty on Friday afternoon of assaulting two male adult victims with a gun.

He was initially charged with shooting at all four geocachers, including a 13-year-old boy who was injured in the leg. But the jury acquitted Heim of shooting at the injured teen and another boy.

I find this a little odd. He is found guilty of shooting at two adult males but escapes conviction for actually shooting and wounding the 13-year-old. Can anyone out there explain this to me? I must be missing something.

The geocachers were hiking on the hill off National Trails Highway near Academy Avenue in Oro Grande, looking for several containers hidden there. When they were opening one of the containers, they heard a voice from the foot of the hill telling them they were on private property and to get out, Deputy District Attorney Carrie Halgrimson said.

The victims turned back and began walking back up the hill, but Heim fired at them, Halgrimson said.

It has been interesting looking into the specific cache the group were seeking (GC2YBNZ), its location and that of Heim during the July 15 incident. The picture below is a Google Earth 3D image showing the cache site (as a red bubble) and Heim’s approximate position when he fired (a red line with a shooter on top).

You get a better idea when you open the image up, but note that a great big rocky hill stands between ground zero and Heim’s location that day.

So why is this important? Well, for the cachers to have been shot at by Heim from that location, they must have been up on that hillside and away from the cache. I would assume they were on their way to another find and taking the scenic route over the hill.

What you can begin to understand from this photographic evidence is why Heim may have felt threatened. The geocachers appear to have been in quite an unlikely location that probably does not get too many visitors.

Of course, what Heim did was completely insane, especially as the group was leaving. Having looked at the location, though, I have developed more sympathy for this ‘frightened, old man’ and lost some of my impression of him as being a ‘crazy, old, rusty-car collector’. In any case, he still shouldn’t have shot at them.

It’s also worth noting that cache owner disabled GC2YBNZ after the incident and only reinstated it once a verdict was issued. That’s great work by the CO and I’m particularly impressed that he didn’t just archive it. The cache looks to be part of a fairly extensive and fun series, so it’s worth keeping about.

Heim claimed he saw several people crawling down the rock on his 15-acre property and told them to leave when they were about 230 feet away from him, but they didn’t listen. The defendant shot into the air and at the rocks to scare them away, but a bullet ricocheted and struck the boy, [Deputy Public Defender Luke] Byward said.

So you can shoot at a rock, have it ricochet off and hit someone and still not be convicted of any charges relating to the victim? Unbelievable.

The injured boy testified he can lift his leg now but is still limping and feels pain in his leg when he walks.

Good news that he is on the mend. Perhaps a bit of time geocaching will aid his recovery!

Heim is scheduled to return for sentencing on November 1. A judge can sentence him to anywhere from seven years and four months to 16 years and four months in prison, or put him on probation.

It will be VERY interesting to see if Heim gets jail time, especially as the minimum term is seven years, four months. We’ll update this case once his sentencing is complete.

UPDATE: It appears I got the wrong cache and that the original cache involved has been archived. The new image below shows where the cache in question was located and, according to this thread, was clearly on private land.

1 comment

  1. Team 360

    VICTORVILLE [California] A judge on Tuesday sentenced a 71-year-old man to seven years and four months in prison for shooting at people who were playing a high-tech treasure hunting game on his Oro Grande property.

    AGAIN, this would have never happened if the cache wasn’t placed on private property to begin with but most cachers don’t give a damn. They’re going to play their game no matter what.

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