One year after a near-fatal shooting in Lake Havasu City, the son of a reality television personality has recovered, and his alleged assailant is expected to stand trial next month.
Lake Havasu City resident Garrett Wilder, 22, has remained in custody at Mohave County Jail since last September, when he was identified as the suspect in the alleged drive-by shooting of 23-year-old California resident Garrett Dotson on Injo Drive. Dotson, who is the son of A&E Network’s “Storage Wars” star Dan Dotson, ultimately survived his injuries. He is expected to offer testimony against Wilder at his trial on Oct. 19.
“I feel great,” the victim said in a Thursday interview. “But it’s physically affected me … my abdomen gets sore, and my back gets sore where the bullet is. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to take my shirt off because of the scars.”
Dotson’s father says he has faced almost $400,000 in medical bills as direct result of the shooting, and his physical recovery has been a daunting task. But parents Dan and Laura Dotson are grateful to have him back.
“It impacted (Garrett) financially, with him being unable to work,” Dan Dotson said Thursday. “MediCal took care of most of the cost, but bills are still coming in. But he’s done pretty well, and we’re making it work out. He’s almost back to being a normal 23-year-old guy.”
According to Dan, Garrett has returned to Havasu two or three times since his recovery. The city is home to several “Storage Wars” co-cast members and security officers, Dotson said, and his family’s affection for Havasu hasn’t diminished.
Garrett Dotson was staying at a rental home in Lake Havasu City on Sept. 13, according to the police report, and spent the day with friends. Police say Dotson returned to the home from a local bar that night, and was standing in front of the property with an acquaintance when Wilder allegedly stopped and shouted at them.
According to witness statements, Wilder – who was accompanied by his girlfriend – shouted for Dotson to “go back where he came from.” Wilder’s girlfriend was allegedly heard telling Wilder to leave Dotson and his friend alone.
Wilder allegedly continued to berate Dotson, and witnesses allegedly told police that Dotson approached Wilder’s vehicle in order to confront him. Police say Wilder shot Dotson from the window of his vehicle before driving away from the scene.
Friends of Dotson rushed him inside and applied pressure to the wound in his abdomen before emergency officials arrived at the scene. Dotson was transported to Havasu Regional Medical Center, and was flown to a Las Vegas hospital for emergency treatment of his injuries. Dotson remained in critical condition, and required emergency surgery to save his life.
Laura Dotson says she remains grateful to the doctors who operated on her son, as well as for the quick response of Lake Havasu City paramedics.
“As a mother, I never want to hear the phone ring at 4 a.m. again,” Laura said. “Now I hear Garrett come through the door, and I hear him laugh … I’m so thankful.”
Police elicited aid from the Havasu public in identifying the shooter. Two days later, Wilder’s girlfriend contacted investigators.
According to her alleged statements to police, she and Wilder had been at a bar on the night of the shooting, before Wilder drove her vehicle to a friend’s home. According to her statements, she wasn’t initially aware the shooting had occurred – only the sound of the gunshot, and Wilder’s desire to leave the area.
Wilder allegedly told his girlfriend that he shot the victim, and according to her statements, she attempted to convince Wilder to turn himself in afterward. When he refused, police say she contacted authorities herself.
Investigators traveled to Wilder’s Winterhaven Drive home on Sept. 15, and stopped him in his vehicle as he attempted to leave the residence. Wilder was arrested at the scene, and detectives obtained a warrant to search his residence.
Police say a .380 caliber handgun was found in Wilder’s bedroom, which showed signs of being recently fired. Inside a vehicle at the location, detectives allegedly found a single spent shell casing from the weapon.
Wilder was questioned at the Lake Havasu City Police Department, where he allegedly told detectives that he overheard statements by Dotson and his companion that indicated an intent to attack Wilder. Wilder allegedly told police that Dotson attempted to open the door of his girlfriend’s vehicle to do so, and that he fired the weapon in self-defense.
According to police, however, Wilder was unable to explain the lack of blood spatter on the vehicle, which would otherwise have indicated Dotson was at close range when the shooting occurred.
Wilder was charged with felony counts of drive-by shooting, aggravated assault, endangerment, use of a weapon in the commission of a felony and disorderly conduct with a weapon. His trial is expected to begin Oct. 19.
Dotson and his family say they will travel to Mohave County for next month’s trial.
“He sometimes has nightmares about that night,” Dan Dotson said. “He’ll be there to testify … I’ve tried to talk to Garrett about what he thinks a just, fair punishment would be. He hasn’t said anything. But the system works, and we’ll watch it work in Havasu. We hope that afterward, everyone can get on with their lives.”
As of Thursday, Wilder remained in custody at Mohave County Jail on $250,000 bond.