Two men have been slapped with the bill for damage in excess of $1.1 million after their gunfire punctured a pipeline and sent thousands of gallons of diesel fuel “spraying” into a creek that flows into a river. A Minnesota federal judge handed the ruling down Wednesday to Eric J. Weckworth-Pineda, 25, and Tanner J. Sik, 22, after they pleaded guilty to misdemeanor negligent discharge of a pollutant and felony criminal damage to property.
In a statement, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency called the men “joyriders” and their act “target practice.” Court documents said that the two men took guns to a bridge spanning a waterway that feeds the Yellow Medicine River. Bored with shooting at the water, Sik fired an AR-15 and hit the pipeline at least three times, while Weckwerth-Pineda used “the scope on his own rifle to spot [Siks’] shots.” The owner of the 8-inch-wide pipeline has estimated that the rupture they caused leaked at least 3,906 gallons of diesel fuel into the water.
Speaking to the Minnesota Star Tribune, Weckwerth-Pineda expressed regret and said, “If you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.” Both the defense and prosecution agreed the men lack “sufficient financial resources” to make the restitution payment; the court has ordered each to pay $30 a month for the next 20 years.