AUSTIN, Minn. — Austin police had been on the scene at the Park Place Apartments complex for about 14 hours from Sunday night into Monday morning and finally around 10 a.m. Monday morning an arrest was made.
Austin police say besides the safety of those involved and those nearby, making contact with the person inside is their number one goal. In this situation they say they were not able to do that right away.
While it took some time, they were able to come to a peaceful ending.
Latasha Beighle looked on as police worked away at the three-building apartment complex she calls home. A friend of hers lives in the building police were coming in and out of.
“They had said that you need to leave because someone has a gun across the hall and she has little kids and she didn’t really know what was going on so she hurried and brought them over here,” Beighle said.
Police said they were called to the apartments just before 8 p.m. Sunday night and Beighle has not slept since.
“I could not sleep at all, I was worried about my safety myself, just being in that building. I just had a baby so I didn’t know if he was going to get out and just come into any of the buildings because he knows the code for all the buildings,” Beighle said.
Police arrived to find 47-year-old Steven Fritz locked inside his apartment unit.
They say he has a history of mental health issues, was consuming alcohol and making threats, so they took the safe route.
“It was known to officers that there were firearms in the apartment. Officers did take the precaution to move individuals in the surrounding apartments to make sure that they were safe,” said Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger.
It was a time-consuming situation for police and residents, mainly because police could not make contact with him.
“Some family members were able to make contact during the course of the evening, but he would not respond to us in any way, shape or form,” Krueger said.
Just before 10 a.m. Monday morning, police brought Fritz out in handcuffs with no struggle.
“They’re very volatile situations and they need to be handled with extreme care, caution and obviously we like to use the element of time on our hands and not make a rash decision,” Krueger said.
Residents like Beighle are just glad everyone is safe, but are still left with some questions.
“We honestly didn’t know anything that was going on, all we knew was there was a bunch of cops and someone was locked inside,” Beighle said.
Police used a passkey to get into Fritz’s unit Monday morning. They found him sitting in a bedroom and handcuffed him with no incident.
Krueger said that police officers recovered four handguns in the apartment and at least two of them were loaded so they were happy to have a peaceful end to the story.
Police tell us they also knew that there was an arrest warrant out for Fritz in Olmsted County. He was brought to the Mower County Jail and is being held for that warrant.