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West-central Minnesota man charged after standoff

Two felony charges and 10 other lesser charges have been filed in Meeker County District Court against the Dassel man who barricaded himself in his home Monday and Tuesday after reports that he had threatened a family member. SWAT teams from several agencies responded, and he eventually surrendered. Officers found evidence in the home that they believe indicates the man fired in the direction of law enforcement.

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LITCHFIELD, Minn. — The 31-year-old Dassel, Minnesota, man who was taken into custody late Tuesday after a day-long standoff at his home is believed to have fired multiple rounds in the direction of law enforcement officers, according to the criminal complaint.

Aaron Mitchel Peterson made his first appearance Friday in Meeker County District Court. According to an amended criminal complaint filed Friday, he faces felony charges of second-degree assault and threats of violence, a gross misdemeanor drug possession charge and nine gross misdemeanor counts of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Custody photo of Aaron Mitchel Peterson
Aaron Mitchel Peterson
Contributed / Meeker County Sheriff's Office

Bail without conditions was set at $200,000 cash or bond. Bail with conditions was set at $100,000 bond or $10,000 cash. Conditions include no use or possession of alcohol, drugs or firearms.

His next court date is Aug. 26.

During the standoff, officers at different times reported hearing sounds they suspected were gunshots, according to the criminal complaint. A search of the home afterward found nine firearms and evidence that Peterson had fired shots in the home during the incident in the direction of law enforcement officers.

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The Meeker County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched Monday to a residence in rural Dassel after Peterson allegedly threatened to shoot up a family member’s home, according to the complaint.

The family member was in possession of Peterson’s guns and had refused demands for their return, according to the complaint.

Peterson is on probation for a felony offense and cannot legally possess firearms. The felony offense from a few years prior also resulted in a standoff between Peterson and law enforcement, according to the criminal complaint.

Peterson allegedly told the family member not to call law enforcement, and that the family member would be responsible if anyone got hurt. He also allegedly stated this was “going to be the end of it,” according to the criminal complaint.

The family member believed Peterson to be suicidal, depressed and possibly using controlled substances, and that he also might currently be armed, according to the complaint.

Given the nature of the allegations, and Peterson’s history, law enforcement enabled a SWAT response, and a Meeker County deputy posted himself outside Peterson’s house to maintain a soft perimeter until SWAT arrived, according to the complaint.

A man who drove away from the residence told the deputy that Peterson had a shotgun stashed somewhere in the house, but that he did not appear under the influence.

After the SWAT team arrived, it attempted to contact Peterson without success. A search warrant for the house was obtained Monday evening, but the SWAT team continued to make efforts to contact Peterson instead of entering by force, according to the complaint.

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Late Monday, an armored vehicle was deployed to break a window to allow a drone to enter and gather information, according to the complaint, and chemical irritant rounds also were projected into the house.

Attempts at contact continued throughout Monday evening and into the early morning hours Tuesday. Peterson spoke on the phone sometime Tuesday but he still refused to surrender.

On Tuesday evening, officers breached a windowless bathroom on the main floor, believing it could be a hiding spot. After continued deployment of chemical irritant rounds and more communications, Peterson eventually exited and surrendered.

He was medically cleared by ambulance personnel before being transported to jail.

Officers then executed the search warrant. In addition to the weapons, a plastic baggie that field-tested positive for methamphetamine was found in the home.

Jennifer Kotila is a reporter for West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minnesota. She focuses on local government, specifically the City of Willmar, and business.

She can be reached via email at: jkotila@wctrib.com or phone at 320-214-4339.
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