Gordon Wheeler Sr., 60, entered the Morrison County Board meeting on June 24 dressed in bib overalls with a pistol in a bandana.
Wheeler had feuded with the county in the past regarding his adult-oriented businesses. Wheeler took Commissioners Gene Young, Tom Wenzel, Jeff Schilling, Duane Johnson; Administrator Tim Houle; Houle's assistant, Connie Waytashek; and county attorney Brian J. Middendorf hostage.
Others in the room were allowed to leave as Waytashek would eventually be allowed to do.
Wheeler also had an unloaded .32 caliber revolver and a set of handcuffs in his possession. A second pair of handcuffs was later found in Wheeler's car.
The Minnesota Attorney General's office report stated Wheeler refused to leave the board room or put down his weapon.
The Morrison County Board room is behind these trees in the back parking lot at the Morrison County Government Center in Little Falls.
Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger
The report stated Wheeler:
Pointed his pistol at a county commissioner he believed had improperly answered a question.
Told the county officials on multiple occasions they had taken everything away from him and there was nothing they could do for him.
Requested the presence of a Twin Cities television news team "up here before I start executing em."
Refused to come out of the room when twice requested by the sheriff.
Told Sheriff (Michel) Wetzel by name to get out of the room or he would start shooting.
Stated that he was General Wheeler of the militia and that the county officials were his prisoners and not his hostages, noting there was a difference.
Said that the day before he had received notice from the bank that there was a judgment for $250,000 against him for a building that he could not use.
Pointed his pistol at the chair of the county board.
Pointed the 9 mm pistol at the back of the county administrator's head or neck on multiple occasions.
On multiple occasions expressed his dissatisfaction with the actions of the county and some of the county officials who were present.
Told Lt. Motes by name to stay outside.
Refused to put his gun down after he was told at least six times to do so by law enforcement.
Crouched down behind the table in a firing position according to the county official closest to him after law enforcement told the chair of the county board to lay down.
Peeked over the top of the table once law enforcement entered the room and pointed his pistol at the officers who were all entering the room from the door in the northwest corner of the room.
Wheeler's pistol was rendered inoperable when it was struck by one or more bullets.
Wheeler was struck by seven bullets. One bullet penetrated his hat and grazed the left size of his head with a front to back trajectory. Another bullet grazed the right side of his head with a front to back trajectory. Five other bullets struck Wheeler in the back of his torso.
The shooting lasted three seconds in which 20 rounds were fired.
Medical assistance was summoned immediately and paramedics arrived shortly thereafter.
Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel and Lt. Bruce Motes and State Trooper Kaj Meinhardt fired their weapons. The six hostages were all still in the room when the shooting began. Each hostage stated he feared Wheeler was going to shoot someone, the attorney general's office reported.
"The evidence submitted to me establishes that the three officers who fired their weapons did so to protect each of them or another from apparent death or great bodily harm ..." Klumpp said in his report. The state reported Wheeler died of blood loss associated with multiple gunshot wounds.
The report used witnesses statements and a videotape of the meeting, crime scene photographs and physical evidence along with Bureau of Criminal Apprehension field examinations, sketches and diagrams. The state attorney general's office reviewed the use of deadly force at the request of the Morrison County attorney's office.
"The officer who believed he fired the first shot said that he did so only after Mr. Wheeler pointed his pistol at the officer," the attorney general's report stated. "The video recording corroborates this. That officer said he fired at Mr. Wheeler's head and pistol because that was what was visible to him as Mr. Wheeler crouched in a firing stance using the table as cover and concealment.
"Each of the officers who fired their weapons was afraid for his own safety as well as the safety of the county officials and other officers involved. At the time law enforcement fired the first shot the six hostages were all still in the room."
In a statement in the assistant attorney general's report Houle said the law enforcement response was flawless and textbook, ending a situation before others were hurt.
"He just needed to have his story told first," Houle said of Wheeler. "He just wanted his story told first, but I, in my mind saw this ending in no outcome other than a murder suicide."
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