More than 50 people filed into the small courtroom in the town of Richmond Wednesday night all standing behind the Canandice auto shop owner.
"It's overwhelming, humbling,” O’Conner said.
Late Sunday O’Conner says he encountered a thief in his shop. He followed the suspect outside where the man tried to get away. That's when he opened fire shooting out the back tire of the car. The suspect was arrested and so was O’Conner. The shop owner was charged with criminal mischief and using excessive force. Authorities say he went too far.
"I will have to fight this all way. I do not see myself as a criminal I was trying to defend my property,” said O’Conner.
"He stops them and then is charged with a more serious crime than they are even charged with, it's terrible,” said Martin Muehe, O’Conner’s attorney.
Dozens of people came out to support O’Conner. Katherine Lustig never met him, but said she felt compelled to come out.
"To me I think it's a total travesty that somebody has the potential of going to prison for shooting out an inanimate object, a tire,” she said.
"As I understand this guy has been ripped off some 100 times. The sheriff's department can't cover it all. We need people like this guy to stand up for his own rights. I don't believe in vigilantes, but I do believe in protecting his property and that's exactly what he was doing,” said Randy Pawley, Richmond Town Supervisor.
Ontario County Assistant District Attorney Neal McClelland handled the arraignment, but wouldn't comment other than to say the story portrayed in the media had many inaccuracies.
"Mr. Muehe will correct them, he knows what the inaccuracies are, Mr. O'Conner knows what they are," said Neal McClelland.
O’Conner has a lot more on the line than the threat of spending time behind bars. If convicted of a felony he could lose his seat on the Canandice town board as well as his business license to run his auto shop. The alleged thieves face a misdemeanor charge.
O'Conner says over the past 3 decades his business has been robbed of more than $250,000 of goods and equipment.