Harry Kirkvold should never have been at the Rodeway Inn.
He needed to be in jail.
But the man who was arrested Monday for allegedly shooting a .38-caliber gun toward an employee's apartment at the motel was out free on a personal recognizance bond despite having pending arson and assault charges.
A personal recognizance bond allows a person charged with a crime to return to court, and he or she doesn't have to pay money to get out of jail.
But let's back up and look at Kirkvold's recent criminal history.
In October, he was arrested when police say he attempted to burn down his own apartment in an attempt to make it look like his neighbor did it. While in jail, court documents state he walked up to another inmate and punched him in the head twice.
During the investigation of the alleged assault, he told an officer that "he was just going to start assaulting people" and that "next time, he'd break bones instead of giving someone a 'love tap'" and that his goal was to go to the penitentiary "and ultimately die there," according to the application for ex parte filed after the arrest.
In December, Kirkvold's court-appointed attorney, Zachary Flood, said Kirkvold would not pose a risk if released, as he has lived in Mitchell for five years without being accused of any offense.
Judge Chris Giles allowed Kirkvold to walk free because his trial was set about four months after his not guilty plea, and perhaps the court didn't want Kirkvold sitting in jail for that long costing the taxpayers money and filling up our jail even more than it already is.
Hindsight is clearly 20/20 here. It's easy for us today to say Kirkvold shouldn't have been released knowing he reportedly shot a gun at a motel apartment. But weren't his actions and words in such a short time frame a red flag?
For years now, South Dakota's criminal justice system that attempts to rehabilitate offenders hoping to keep prison populations lower seems to have some major flaws. The idea was great, but we need to make some significant adjustments with it.
When serious crimes such as arson and assault occur, perhaps there needs to be more consideration as to whether a person should be out free. When someone is charged with murder, we don't let them walk.
We know there's frustration pent up between the court system and boots-on-the-ground law enforcement officers due to the state's criminal justice system. Ask any Mitchell officer, and I bet they'll agree that Kirkvold should have been in jail.
While we're glad no one was injured in Monday's shooting, we also need to use this as an example as to why the state's criminal justice system needs improvement.
Who else is out of jail awaiting trial, and about to commit a violent act?