ARMED STANDOFF ENDS PEACEFULLY
On February 23, 2016 at 4:44 PM, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call for help from a residence in the 800 block of Archery Rd., Northwest, located approximately 3 miles west of Bemidji in Grant Valley Township. The callers reported a domestic disturbance involving shots being fired inside the residence by 56-year-old Douglas Richard Westrum, the homeowner. The initial reports to law enforcement indicated there had been a struggle over the firearm and there were still two individuals with Westrum inside the residence at the time of the shooting.
Responding officers from the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and Bemidji Police Department immediately initiated efforts to assist those who needed to evacuate from the home by approaching on foot where they were able to guide the family members to a safe escape.
Members from the Sheriff’s office then met with those family members in a safe location away from the residence and learned that everyone was now away from the residence. The only person remaining inside the residence was Douglas who they believed was armed with a 9MM pistol and had access to other firearms inside the house. Family members described Douglas as being distraught and extremely intoxicated. They said he had picked up the gun and a struggle began over the firearm with family members and he began shooting. Officers heard shots fired from within the house as they took up positions on the perimeter and could hear bullets passing overhead. The shots continued as the event unfolded.
Members of the Headwaters SWAT Team responded and officers from the Bemidji Police Department, Minnesota State Patrol, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, FBI, DNR Enforcement and the US Border Patrol assisted the Sheriff’s Office in the six hour long standoff with Westrum.
Officers established communications with Westrum and attempted negotiating with him for a lengthy period of time but negotiations broke down as Westrum became more incoherent. At one point the SWAT Team was able to determine his location inside the house and could see the firearm. They were able to gain entry into the house without Westrum becoming aware and they successfully took him into custody with no injury to any officers or to Westrum. Westrum was transported to the Beltrami County Jail pending charges. The County Attorney’s office is reviewing the case at this time.
A CodeRED “shelter in place” alert was sent by the Beltrami County Sheriff’s 911 Communications Center to the surrounding area to advise our citizens. An all clear was also sent when the incident ended.
Additional assistance was provided by the Bemidji Ambulance Service and ISD 31 Bemidji School District.
The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office thanks the public for their patience and assistance in helping resolve this situation peacefully.
Sheriff Phil Hodapp
Beltrami County Sheriff