by Jim Boyle
A Big Lake Township house fire called in about 9:43 a.m. on Monday, April 3 turned into a two-hour standoff between law enforcement and an armed man.
Crews from the Big Lake Fire Department arrived to find a fully engulfed home in the 19400 block of 180th Avenue in Big Lake Township. As first responders made their way around to the back of the home they encountered a man holding a handgun who warned the firefighters to leave.
Officers immediately responded to the home where they encountered the subject in the back yard of the burning home along the banks of the Mississippi River.
Officers attempted communication for nearly 2 hours in an attempt to end the situation peacefully. At 1140 a.m. officers reported the man had shot himself during attempted negotiations.
Paramedics immediately rendered aid and the subject was transported by ambulance to Monticello Hospital with life threatening wounds.
His identity was being withheld at this time. Neighbors, who heard sounds of exploding ammunition when the house was on fire, said the man had recently gotten divorced.
Capt. Dan Anselment with the Wright County Sheriff’s Office said Sherburne County law enforcement officials asked his agency to keep observers away from the area on the Wright County side of the Mississippi River. “They wanted us to get all of the onlookers off the shoreline,” Anselment said. “That’s the only request we had for assistance.
The house was destroyed in the fire but neighboring homes were protected from catching on fire.
Traffic and bystanders were kept at a distance from the standoff, but residents along the block could be seen watching the scene unfold from their driveways.
Video courtesy of Julie South
The Sheriff’s Department was aided by the Big Lake and Becker Police Departments. Big Lake Fire was assisted by Elk River and Monticello fire departments.
A state fire marshal was on the scene after the standoff came to a conclusion, and began his investigation once utility crews were able to secure the site from further danger.