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Bemidji man accused of pulling replica gun faces charges

BEMIDJI - A Bemidji man has been charged with felony terroristic threats for allegedly threatening an individual with what appeared to be a handgun.

Joseph Ethan Tate, 19, of Bemidji, who has no criminal history, was arraigned Wednesday morning before Beltrami County District Judge John Melbye. His next court appearance was set for 9 a.m. Monday before Judge Shari Schluchter.

He was released from Beltrami County Jail Wednesday as a family member posted a $400 cash alternative for bail.

According to the criminal complaint, Tate pulled what appeared to be a handgun and pointed it at individuals who had come to his home to recover a stolen cell phone on Monday evening.

Because of the reported firearm involvement, the Beltrami County SWAT team responded to the scene later that evening, ordering Tate and others out of the residence.

As Tate was arrested, he said, "It was only a BB gun," according to the complaint. The gun, which was located in a vehicle, was determined to be a BB replica of a Walher P99 semi-automatic pistol.

As ordered by Melbye, conditions of Tate's release include that he not have contact with the individuals involved in the cell phone dispute.

The criminal complaint also states:

The owner of the cell phone reported it stolen on Saturday. His mother began receiving text messages Monday from a boy who had possession of the cell phone.

The boy told her that he would exchange the cell phone for money.

He told the woman to come to Tate's address for the exchange. When she arrived, with three males, she demanded that the boy tell her who he had received the cell phone from before she would turn over any money.

As the woman demanded the information from the boy, Tate, who was standing nearby, allegedly pulled the black BB gun and pointed it at her and the males who had accompanied her to the home.

The woman quickly got back in the vehicle with the males and they drove a short distance away before calling law enforcement.