Along with their swim trunks and picnic baskets, some residents of the upscale Gem Shores neighborhood on Hayden Lake bring guns to the beach.
The little sandbar at the base of their hillside haven hasn’t been a relaxing getaway since Brad St. John bought property there three years ago, neighbors say.
“We all pack guns down there on account of Brad,” said Bob Johnson, a retired police officer whose home overlooks the sandy shoreline.
An ongoing dispute between St. John and area property owners peaked Saturday night when he was arrested for allegedly shooting at Jeff Baker, who was relaxing on the beach.
Another couple accused St. John of waving an 8-foot stick at them and threatening to kill them and their dog shortly after the shooting. St. John declined to explain his role in either incident.
“The only comment I have - and this is being recorded - is the truth will bear itself out,” St. John told a reporter when contacted by phone Wednesday. “I am innocent. I stand by my innocence.”
Because of crowded conditions at the Kootenai County Jail last weekend, St. John was released on personal recognizance.
Neighbors have called the prosecutors office to complain about St. John being released.
“I think he’s over the edge,” said Olias Rivera, who lives near the beach and has had his own confrontations with St. John. “He’s on the verge of doing something. We were all shocked that he was out.”
Neighbors describe St. John as a pacing, nervous man who becomes violent when he drinks. The deputy who arrested St. John Saturday said he smelled strongly of alcohol.
County prosecutor Bill Douglas said he can understand the neighbors’ concerns, but a condition of St. John’s release was “he can’t do anything that is harassing or intimidating.”
Though Douglas lives near St. John in the Emerald Estates neighborhood, he said he does not know the suspect.
“We make decisions every day to let people out on their own recognizance,” Douglas said. “This isn’t the first, and it won’t be the last.”
The prosecutor has an indefinite period to decide whether to file charges against St. John.
St. John purchased four and a half acres in the Hayden Haven subdivision, adjacent to Gem Shores, in 1992. Part of his property includes an elongated strip that leads from a landlocked lot to a 63-foot stretch of beach.
The beach St. John owns is considered by neighbors to be a legally recognized common area.
A 1942 quit claim deed signed by the previous owners dedicates an easement to lots 1 through 34 of the Hayden Haven plat, “for the purpose of access to Hayden Lake including, but not limited to, boat launching, swimming and other recreational uses.”
St. John has applied for a private boat dock permit for the beach, but it has been vigorously opposed by the neighbors.
His request is pending before the state Department of Lands.
“He knew about this deed before he bought the property and he apparently can’t accept it,” said Greg Kosareff, who has an inch-thick file on St. John.
Kosareff can look out his back window to St. John’s wooded property, where a deer and fawn foraged Wednesday. Because of previous run-ins with St. John, Kosareff and his wife no longer take their daughter to the beach.
“It’s very unnerving,” Kosareff said. “I used to take my girl down there in the four-wheeler, and I’d read a book and she’d play in the sand.
“But every time you hear a car you look over your shoulder wondering if it’s him.”
Kosareff is urging the county prosecutor to press assault and trespass charges against St. John for an incident that happened last August.
The Kosareff’s had beached their boat on the disputed shoreline, which angered St. John, according to the Sheriff’s report.
St. John went to the Kosareff’s house, challenged Kosareff to a fight, and wouldn’t leave when Kosareff asked him, according to the report.
Jennifer Kosareff, who witnessed the confrontation, told police, “I’m afraid to use the beach because of him, after the way he acted that day. I’m afraid that one day he might crack, and I don’t want my family to be his victims.”
Greg Kosareff said whenever he goes to the beach now, he brings a tape recorder, a cellular phone and a gun.