Parking Dispute Ends With Des Moines Business Owner Pulling Out a Gun

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- It's not every day Des Moines police say a business owner must use a gun to settle an argument in broad daylight. But it happened this past Sunday over parking, police say.

There is no denying that parking can be a hassle in downtown Des Moines.

“We are on our bikes and it would take like 15 minutes for us to each pull a ticket, so we went through the sidewalk," Des Moines resident Jeremiah Deever said.

Deever, Paul Harrison and two others jumped a curb with their motorcycles to park in a downtown parking lot, instead of going through the gate and getting a free parking pass.

"I am not saying two wrongs make a right, but we did go through and it was two free hours anyway," Deever said. “We saw a gentleman look at us kind of weird and taking notes."

The man staring was Michael Bowser, a co-owner of DSM Brew Coffee Co.

“One of our buddies asked if he was going to call a tow truck and he said 'no, but I should, you are stealing,'" Harrison said.

“I am not here to tow your motorcycles. I am sitting in my car and I did explain to them that in the future they should take a ticket," Bowser said.

Bowser says the situation quickly escalated.

“They got argumentative to a point that they used an anti-gay slur. They were in my space. I felt concerned for my safety. I had an unloaded gun in my backpack and I pulled it out and told them that I needed space immediately," Bowser said.

Deever says a slur was never used and that Bowser escalated the situation by pulling a gun.

“We told him like, 'hey, we would go back in and get a ticket.' It wasn't threatening. It was just two people having differences,” Deever said.

Police say Bowser was within his legal rights under the state's stand-your-ground law.

Deever and Harrison say next time they will use the parking lot the right way.

Police are in the process of reviewing surveillance video taken from multiple cameras in the parking lot.

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