U hotel standoff ends, suspect in custody

A man stuck his head out of a window after police shot tear gas canisters.
A man stuck his head out of a window at the Graduate Hotel after police shot tear gas canisters through it.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Updated 4:42 p.m. | Posted 6:45 a.m.

Police have in custody a man who'd kept them in a standoff since Monday at a hotel on the University of Minnesota campus. The capture came to a dramatic conclusion Tuesday afternoon after SWAT officers used flash grenades and tear gas.

University authorities said the incident ended without injury.

Police say they moved to end the standoff with the man holed up in a hotel room after the man began lighting small fires and threatened to burn the building down.

University Police Chief Matt Clark said officers used a battering ram to enter the man's sixth-floor room at the Graduate Hotel on Tuesday afternoon, after chemical irritants and flash grenades failed to flush out the man, who had made "multiple threats that he was going to kill himself and others."

The man hung out the window several times. Clark told reporters that officers backed off after they entered the room because they were concerned that he could fall and be killed or seriously injured, but they eventually persuaded him to come back inside and arrested him. He said the man did not appear to be injured, but he was taken to a hospital as a precaution.

Police taking action in U hotel standoff, fire tear gas
Police appeared to be taking action Tuesday morning in their second day of a standoff on Tuesday with a man holed up in a hotel room on the University of Minnesota's campus.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The standoff began Monday after officers tried to arrest the man on a warrant out of Arizona. A woman who had been with the man in the room was released hours later, though police weren't calling it a hostage situation.

The situation stayed relatively quiet overnight.

That changed Tuesday morning when officers fired several rounds of tear gas into the room and moved media back, expanding the police perimeter outside the Graduate Hotel.

Officers had warned reporters on scene that the man may have a gun.

White smoke could be seen pouring through the broken window of the hotel room police had targeted with canisters. At one point, a man stuck his head out of the room's window.

The scene remained relatively calm for awhile after that until around 1 p.m. when law enforcement pulled what looked like a burning pillow from the suspect's window with a grabber tool.

Then came two explosions, which sounded like flash grenades. A third, similar explosion came about 30 minutes later.

Clark said the man claimed to be armed, and that his local relatives told police his handgun was missing, but that he didn't have a gun on him when he was arrested, and investigators didn't immediately find one in the room. He declined to go into details about why the man refused to surrender or what officers learned about him during the course of negotiations.

"There were a number of issues related to his family life, things that happened in his past related to the crime that he was wanted for," he said.

Mike Kjos, assistant chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, said negotiations continued "from the very beginning" until the "last seconds" before the SWAT team arrested the man.

"When the officers rammed the door, there were a number of items including mattresses and other things inside the room stacked against the door. It was very difficult to get through the door. They actually broke the door in half, and rammed the door off its hinges," Clark said.

The incident diverted few police resources away from the extensive Super Bowl security preparations underway in the Twin Cities area because most of the tactical teams involved had been assigned to other duties, Kjos said.

The Minneapolis Police Department is leading the investigation. Kjos said the suspect will face local charges in addition to what he was facing in Arizona.

The Graduate Hotel at 615 Washington Ave. SE is the former campus Radisson.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.