Five Morrison County commissioners sat at a rounded table in the board's meeting room this morning- held hostage by a lone gunman who minutes later would be shot to death by law enforcement.
Todd Kosovich, a senior prosecutor with the Morrison County attorney's office, described that scene in Tuesday's standoff based on interviews he conducted with witnesses who were in the room at the Morrison County Courthouse. Kosovich, an assistant county attorney, was heading up legal aspects of the investigation since County Attorney Brian J. Middendorf also was held hostage in the incident and was a material witness. Kosovich said he would supervise the legal investigation until representatives of the Minnesota attorney general's office were on the scene.
"It's been the worst day of my career," Kosovich said, struggling to relay the facts of a situation he described as surreal. "You're always worry about this.
"It's so bizarre to see a room you're so familiar with with blood on the floor, a chair overturned and bullet holes in the wall," he said.
At 10:22 a.m. the county board meeting was wrapping up, witnesses told investigators, when a man stood up, revealed a handgun that had been concealed in a red bandana and yelled something. Two journalists with the Morrison County Record were told to leave the room and a few other people, including County Auditor Russ Nygren, were let go or were able to escape.
Known to be in the room, witnesses said, were the county attorney, County Administrator Tim Houle and Commissioners Tom Wenzel, Jeff Schilling, Gene Young, Don Meyer and Duane Johnson.
"It was an active hostage situation," Kosovich said.
The gunman shouted some things, witnesses reported, and eventually took a seat in a board member's chair. At one point, Houle tried to engage the gunman in conversation in order to calm him down.
The sheriff's department was alerted immediately, Kosovich said. Law officers, including Sheriff Michel Wetzel, deputies and a State Patrol trooper, entered the room.
"They told him to drop the gun and he did not," Kosovich said recounting information he learned from witnesses.
Law officers fired on the gunman and the hostage situation was over.
"It's a real miracle that no one was hurt except the gunman," Kosovich said.
By early afternoon the courthouse was an eerie scene, he said, empty except for investigators and snipers on the rooftop.
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