A Grand Forks man wanted on charges related to the loaded shotgun found last week in the Herald's building was arrested just before midnight after a several-hour standoff at a south Grand Forks mobile home.
A warrant was signed earlier Wednesday night on Philip Manaigre, 22, charging him with a Class C felony of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm and a Class A misdemeanor of disorderly conduct in connection with the Feb. 22 incident of the shotgun found at the Herald's downtown offices, said Peter Welte, Grand Forks County State's Attorney.
Manaigre refused to allow Grand Forks police to serve the arrest warrant and a police SWAT team surrounded his home in the Columbia Heights mobile home park.
After several hours of attempting to talk Manaigre out of the home, SWAT team members went into the house just before midnight, according to an officer on the scene. Manaigre was arrested just inside the front door. He was in good condition, the officer said, except for burning and watery eyes caused by several "flash-bang" objects that had been thrown into the home. Manaigre was taken to Altru Hospital, the officer said.
During the standoff, negotiators addressed the mobile home via bullhorn, and could be heard asking Manaigre to turn a light on and off to show officers he was OK.
"Philip, I know you are inside there," an officer could be heard saying repeatedly. "Let us know that you are safe."
Officers several times also inquired about Manaigre's daughter. It was not immediately known if a child or others were in the home.
Police earlier had evacuated people from the adjacent trailers and told others living in the area to stay in their homes. However, several neighbors watching the scene unfold late Wednesday told the Herald that Manaigre had only lived in the home for a few months.
Custodial firm employee
Manaigre, who worked for a short time for a custodial firm contracted to clean the Herald, was never a Herald employee but had access to the building at night, including the room where the gun was found.
In an interview with police Tuesday, Manaigre admitted to hiding the gun in the Herald building, saying he used it as self-defense because of a personal dispute with people outside the Herald, according to the police report.
Manaigre previously committed a crime with a gun and spent time in the Grand Forks jail.
He pleaded guilty in early 2008 to a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment that stemmed from his firing a pistol inside a Grand Forks residence in December 2007, Welte said. Manaigre spent about two months in the Grand Forks County jail on that charge. Manaigre also was convicted in March 2006 of misdemeanor charges of possessing marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia in Grand Forks and sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation.
Welte said today he is charging Manaigre under a state law regarding weapons-related misdemeanors that involved "violence or intimidation," Welte said.
"That makes it a felony for him to possess a weapon within five years," he said.
The Class C felony Manaigre faces carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The gun had nothing to do with any issue Manaigre had with the Herald or anyone at the Herald.
He worked two to three months cleaning the Herald at night until Herald officials, concerned about his actions at work, asked that he be transferred. He last worked Dec. 10 at the Herald, a Herald manager said.
Manaigre apparently had disputes with people in his life outside of the Herald, felt personally threatened by them, and brought the gun as a self-defense measure, Herald employees were told at work Wednesday.
He apparently did not retrieve the gun after being dismissed from his custodial job at the Herald.
The case came to light Feb. 22 when Herald employees were cleaning in a small kitchen/break area on the first floor of the Herald and found a shotgun inside a pillow case hidden in a cabinet.
Police were contacted and determined the 12-gauge shotgun was loaded with slugs, and was a pump-action, with no shoulder stock, but rather just a pistol grip and a relatively short barrel. It's the type not used for hunting but for self-defense and law enforcement, police said.
Herald officials and employees were concerned because, as Herald Publisher/Editor Mike Jacobs said at the time, it was difficult to imagine an innocent reason for the gun being hidden in the way it was. Herald work rules forbid any employee bringing a firearm into the building, Jacobs said.
Jacobs gathered employees Wednesday to report news of charges in the case. Jacobs said he was grateful for the work of police and the state's attorney's office, and said Herald employees handled the situation "with courage and common sense."
"I am confident this episode is well behind us," he said.
Reach Lee at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 237; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.