At least two businesses were placed under a lockdown last night, after police received an alarming report about a potential gunman in the area near the 1500 block of West Highway 13. Two hours later, authorities found the man, a hobbyist who'd been target shooting with an airsoft gun.
The incident began around 8 p.m. Tuesday night, when officers from the Burnsville Police Department were dispatched to the area after reports came in about an "an unhappy-looking Hispanic male with a long gun" who had been seen entering a wooded area behind 1575 W. Highway 13. Once at the scene, officers heard what seemed to be a muffled gun shot coming from the woods.
In response, the BPD deployed a full search party, with the dogs and a chopper from the Minnesota State Patrol. Two nearby businesses—Carpet King Clearance Center and Trade Direct—were placed on lockdown, which left employees and clients trapped in the buildings for about two hours.
"They told us stay away from the windows. It was about 10 o'clock by the time it cooled off," said Jason Potter, an employee at Trade Direct. "They were behind our building with guns out and everything. It was quite an ordeal."
After an extensive search, a witness told authorities that he'd seen a male matching the description walk into the apartment building about five minutes before officers arrived. The BPD quickly located the suspect, who admitted to having an airsoft gun out in the woods, where he'd been shooting at bottles and cans. An airsoft gun shoots plastic pellets. It is a non-lethal device, though they often look very realistic. Some are replicas of military assault weapons or handguns. There are even airsoft "hand grenades" and "land mines" for historical reenactors to use.
According to BPD Spokesman Sgt. Rory Bochniak no arrests were made, though the man (who thus far has not been named) is facing gross misdemeanor criminal charges for discharging a firearm inside city limits.
"We do not believe anyone was ever in any danger nor that he was intentionally trying hurt or frighten anyone. But, it is not legal to discharge any type of weapon, bb gun, pellet gun, etc. in the city," said Police Chief Bob Hawkins.
Incident command concluded their report with: "Great work by everyone involved and thankfully it turned out well for everyone."
Potter said it is not the first time that these businesses have witnessed major police deployments. . In that instance, Jamie Linn Hom, 32, was charged with two felonies: second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and making terroristic threats.
"We're seeing a lot of SWAT action as of late," Potter said.