Northfield, Minnesota police arrested a former U-32 cross-country runner for alleged threats of potential violence in a college setting, per a recent police press release. Police arrested St. Olaf College student Waylon Sieber Kurts, 20, of Middlesex, in his vehicle in Hennepin County on Thursday, April 6. He was charged with three felonies Monday, April 10, including conspiracy to commit second-degree assault, conspiracy to commit acts of violence, and making terroristic threats.
The reports do not identify who Kurts allegedly conspired with, but a news report from a local Minnesota television station stated police said they found conversations with a “co-conspirator” on Kurts’s phone in which they talked about buying guns and ways to prepare for the shooting without being noticed by authorities. Kurts is a sophomore at St. Olaf College, a private school in Minnesota. He previously attended Rumney Memorial School in Middlesex and U-32 Middle and High School in East Montpelier, according to several internet website postings.
Kurts’s attorney, Paul Rogosheske, said Kurts “has some things that look funny,” but said police did not find anything that poses a threat to anyone, according to an April 11 report in the Star Tribune. Rogosheske told the Tribune Kurts is an avid hunter and camper who “shoots a lot,” and noted there were no guns or ammunition taken from his dorm room or vehicle. He further claimed Kurts drew the map for someone else.
The arrest followed a college custodian’s discovery April 5 of high-capacity magazine packages and packaging addressed to Kurts in a garbage can located outside a dorm, according to a report from Rice County, Minnesota government. The custodian reported the findings to St. Olaf public safety officials, who found rifle magazines, a tactical vest, empty ammo boxes, knives, lighter fluid, propane canisters and fireworks in Kurts’ dorm room. Additionally, public safety officers reported finding a note listing public safety radio frequencies and a notebook detailing plans to steal ammunition from a local store and make an indoor firing range like those used to train law enforcement and military personnel in close quarters combat, according to a Rice County government report.
Kurts’s notes also included a hand-drawn map showing a “path of travel” through the college’s new Skoglund-Tostrud recreational building. Kurts told the St. Olaf’s public safety director that he was interested in guns and didn’t know the equipment he had in his dorm violated campus policy. Kurts then claimed he stored his high-capacity magazines and ammunition off campus at a gun store. Kurts was then suspended and removed from campus. Northfield Police were contacted and began searching for Kurts, who did not return calls. He was apprehended in Edina on May 6 around noon.
Officers found a bag belonging to Kurts containing a laptop, cell phone, and two hand-held radios. “They also contacted the business which Kurts claimed he used for ammunition storage, but were told they don’t offer that service. Officials found several text messages on Kurts’s phone that included discussions about firearms, building rifles and radio frequencies, and shipping items to various locations to keep from arousing suspicion,” the Rice County report states. One message had a photo of a box filled with rifle magazines placed on a bench on college grounds that had comments about how students would react if they knew what was inside the box.
Another notebook with notes on combat, guns, and how to shoot a person to cause the most damage was found in Kurts’s vehicle. Rice County Attorney Brian Mortenson thanked St. Olaf Public Safety, Northfield Police, and officers in the metro for their work in stopping Kurts, according to the ricecountymn.gov report. He singled out the alert St. Olaf custodian who “likely thwarted a full-scale attack on the school and its students.”
“The message that if you ‘see something to say something,’ cannot be overstated,” Mortenson said. “In this case, one person’s discovery led law enforcement to apprehend an individual who appeared intent on causing great harm in our community. We owe that person a tremendous debt of gratitude.”
Kurts, who was also charged with conspiracy to commit theft, a misdemeanor, is currently in the Rice County Jail, the press release states. He appeared on Monday before District Court Judge Christine Long, who granted him bail of $100,000 with conditions, $200,000 without. His next appearance in court is scheduled for April 21. The investigation into this case is continuing.
The Northfield Police Department issued a statement that they believe this is an isolated event and there is no ongoing threat to students or the campus.
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