When Gordon Wheeler Sr. walked into the Morrison County Board room Tuesday, the five county commissioners and county Administrator Tim Houle didn't think anything of it.
Houle - in a telephone interview just hours after Wheeler was shot after holding the county officials hostage - said citizens are welcome to attend the public meetings and Wheeler had attended many meetings in the past.
Houle said Wheeler walked into the board room about halfway through the meeting and sat down in the audience section of the meeting room. Houle said Wheeler interrupted the meeting toward the end when there were about 11 people in the board room.
"I can't get into the specifics on what happened in the board room," said Houle. "People are pretty shaken up. This is a significant tragedy for all parties involved. It's a sad day. Nobody won here."
Houle said the entire incident - from the time Wheeler confronted the county board to when the incident ended with Wheeler being shot - lasted about 20 minutes.
"Everybody was doing what they could to resolve this," Houle said of the hostage situation.
The Morrison County Government Center in Little Falls was evacuated and closed Tuesday morning after Gordon Wheeler Sr. walked into the building with a gun and took hostages in the county board room. Wheeler was shot by responding law enforcement officers and later died at St. Gabriel's Hospital in Little Falls. Brainerd Dispatch/ Kelly Humphrey
Houle hopes the Morrison County Government Center will be open for business Wednesday, but he did not know as of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday if it would be.
Tuesday was one of Houle's last regular board meetings as Morrison county administrator. He accepted a position with Crow Wing County as its county administrator and will begin working in Brainerd July 14.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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