A woman who was attempting to get her money back for a hotel room received more than she anticipated when a Branson motel owner told her that she would be “shot dead” if she came back to their property.
The owners of the Homestead Motel in Branson told Kristen Metcalf in an email: “if you do come on this property ever again it will be dealt with as a trespass and a hostile maneuver and you will be shot dead!”
The dispute revolves around Metcalf’s claim that she found blonde hairs in the bed of the room she rented and demanded a refund of her money. Metcalf says the motel owner told her that if they could rent the room, they would refund her money, and then booked the room without the refund. Metcalf threatened to take legal action against the motel.
“I expect to see a refund by Friday and you are welcome to contact me to discuss this but if not then well there will be consequences,” Metcalf wrote.
Metcalf then received what she never expected. (Email provided by Metcalf, email addresses have been redacted by OI.)
RESPONSE FROM HOMESTEAD MOTEL
OI contacted Homestead Motel to ask them to confirm the mail and if they actually intended to shoot the woman if she showed up at their property, owners Brian & Mica Smith responded via email, writing we were “a day late and a dollar short” because the “full story is out there on social media” and that if we continued to “call our attorney” we would be met “with no reply at all.”
“No law was broken unless or until she would be stupid enough to walk into this office after being criminally trespassed,” they said in their email to OI.
The email then went on to say that like a reporter for another outlet in the region that we should “investigate her claims” which “was the basis to all of her psychotic ramblings.”
SO WHAT’S ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
OI checked various social media outlets to see what “is out there” regarding the incident. We found several interactions between Brian Smith and various commenters on Facebook regarding the situation.
Here are screenshots of some of the exchanges on Facebook (courtesy Facebook):
The below exchange took place after a comment from an Amber Smith who wrote “Threatening to shoot and kill guests dosnt (sic) appeal to me. Plenty of other hospitable lovely places to stay in Branson. You should be ashamed.”
The motel owners are also receiving hateful comments on their social media channels such as this comment taken from the Homestead Motel facebook page:
The motel had received many glowing social media reviews before this incident, with a 4.8 rating out of 5 on Facebook (which has fallen to 4.5 in the wake of this email incident as of publication time.) They had a 4.6 rating out of 5 on Google and a 9.0 rating out of 10 on Hotels.com.
Here are a few of the recent positive comments about the motel in facebook reviews:
RESPONSE FROM THOSE MENTIONED IN THE ORIGINAL MOTEL EMAIL
OI reached out to Dubail Judge, whom Homestead referred to in their email as “our legal counsel”, who informed us they were not the attorney of record for the Motel and referred us to contact the motel directly about the incident.
When we reached out to the Branson police department regarding what referenced them in the email, a department spokesperson confirmed Officer Donathan is a contact person for the hotels and motels of Branson but not specifically involved with Homestead Motel on another level.
The Branson police department also provided the following statement to OI:
The Branson Police Department has not received any criminal complaints regarding any Facebook comments involving the Homestead Motel. When officers looked into this situation yesterday, they found no criminal violation. Officers also made contact with the owner the make sure he understood the law.
When an officer made contact with the owner yesterday, the owner showed police a video clip of a customer coming and going. Nothing was collected because it is a civil matter.
The Branson Police Department continues to monitor the situation and will immediately engage if and when a criminal Nexis is identified.
The Branson Police vehemently disagrees with the businesses statement regarding shooting trespassers and will exercise all available investigative and enforcement actions toward a business or business owner who takes this type of action toward a mere trespasser.
The Branson Police Department discourages businesses and business owners from initiating independent enforcement actions; the business management should immediately contact Branson 911 and report the incident.
The Branson Police Department encourages any person who may have been the victim of a crime immediately contact Branson 911 and report the incident to the Police.
ATTORNEY SAYS CASTLE DOCTRINE DOESN’T REALLY APPLY
According to Branson defense attorney Michael Horn, who has also served as a federal prosecutor, the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws mentioned in the motel’s email to Metcalf don’t give someone free reign to shoot a trespasser.
“You’re not allowed to use Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground laws to enforce trespassing,” Horn told OI. “You have to call the police for that. Even in the defense of property you can’t do that. The Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws require you to have fear of life or fear of danger to life or limb, not that you just don’t want someone on your property.”
Horn also said he believed because they were mentioned in the email ahead of any potential trespassing, the Castle Doctrine would be invalid.
“The fact this is being telegraphed in advance in a publicly accessible, commercial property, at least Castle Doctrine should not apply,” Horn said. “Castle Doctrine requires you to be in your residence. It comes from the old saying that a man’s home is his castle.”
Horn noted his comments were in general about the laws, as he didn’t have information about the specific situation other than what was provided through the media.
CUSTOMER HOLDING OFF ON LEGAL ACTION
Metcalf told OI Friday that she has filed a complaint with the Springfield Police Department about the email threat because she was in Springfield when she received the email. She also said she’s disputing the room charge through hotels.com, with whom she made the initial reservation. She’s waiting to see the results of the dispute before making a final decision on legal action.
Hotels.com did not respond when questioned about whether they are working to obtain a refund and if they are still working with the Homestead Motel.