Man responsible for church standoff appears in court

Wade Young

Montgomery Messenger

The man responsible for a standoff at Holy Redeemer Church in Montgomery last week made two appearances in Le Sueur County Court.

On Friday, Oct. 7, Alan Barnett, 34, made his first appearance in court and was charged with four felonies: burglary in the third degree; criminal damage to property in the first degree; controlled substance crime in the fifth degree; and reckless discharge of a firearm in the October 5 incident.

In his second appearance in court Tuesday, Oct. 11, a judge ordered Barnett to undergo evaluation at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center.

Barnett was arrested after he entered Holy Redeemer Catholic Church with a rifle and threatened to kill anyone who entered.

According to Montgomery Police Chief John Schmidt, the call came into the Montgomery Police Department at 6:37 p.m. After the county’s Specialized Entry Response Team (SERT) secured the exterior and interior of the church, SERT team members entered the church to find Barnett wearing white robes with gold colored embroidering and a large cross/necklace around his neck and located near the church altar. He was in deep thought/prayer, facing the large cross on the altar, according to the initial complaint from Le Sueur County.

Barnett was then taken into custody without incident after a two-and-a-half hour standoff.

When officials searched the church they found Barnett’s Winchester Brand .30-.30 caliber rifle, model #94 on the steps/floor with six loaded cartridges and one spent.

Damage to the church

After Barnett was taken into custody, County Investigator Bruce Collins noticed the back of the altar had been pulled/pried loose. Behind the altar he found Barnett’s shoes, clothes and church clothes on the floor, the complaint indicated.

“Several candles had been lit and a dish of Holy Water and a pitcher of water were also present on the steps to the Sacristy Room. A 12-inch-by-12-inch piece of plate glass with white, powdery substance and a glass tube used for smoking methamphetamine were found in the sacristy room,” the complaint indicated.

Collins also noted there was a knife and evidence a bullet had been shot through a cabinet, doing more than $1,000 in damage to a glass bowl, several photographs and clothes hanging in a closet next to the cabinet.

Area evacuated

The incident occurred during the time when Holy Redeemer School across the street holds its religious education classes. When the incident started, the school’s approximately 100 children were immediately evacuated and escorted to the Montgomery Police Department with the help of the Montgomery Ambulance Department. They were then released to their parents.

“Evacuating the school was obviously a top priority,” Schmidt said.

Holy Redeemer Associate Pastor, Dave Barrett was at St. Canice Church in Kilkenny assisting with their classes when he was notified of what was happening in Montgomery. He arrived at Holy Redeemer around 7:30 p.m. and then assisted the evacuated students with their parents.

“Some of the kids were pretty shaken up,” Barrett said.

Earlier that day, the Le Sueur County Sheriff’s Department had executed a search warrant on Barnett’s residence after a family member and friend of Barnett’s expressed concern for his welfare to county officials. They noted that he had been growing marijuana in his basement last summer as well as recently using methamphetamine, according to the warrant.

Barnett also had told family members that Alan Strouth, a person living at his residence, was allegedly making methamphetamine in a shop, the warrant also noted.

Strouth currently has warrants for his arrest from Rice and Dakota counties for a controlled substance violation and domestic assault.

Moving on for the students

On Wednesday, Oct. 12, Father George Grafsky, Father Cory Rohlfing, Father Dave Barrett, and County Deputy Dave Struckman addressed the religious education students about what had happened a week earlier to help the students move on from the incident.

“One thing this does is teach us about despair and the ill effect of what chemicals will do to you,” Barrett said.

It is unknown how Barnett entered the church. According to Pastor Rohlfing and the complaint, he had locked both the church and the Parish House earlier that day.

Barnett remains in custody with bail set at $60,000 in cash or $600,000 bond. If convicted of all four counts, Barnett would face up to 17 years in prison and up to a $35,000 fine.

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