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Man escapes assault charges, but terroristic threats stick

WILLMAR -- A Kandiyohi County jury on Thursday found Michael Eugene Whitson, 65, of Atwater, guilty of terroristic threats for threatening his housemates during an Aug. 20 incident.

The jury also found Whitson not guilty of second-degree assault. He will be sentenced Jan. 31. The verdicts came after a two-day jury trial before District Court Judge Michael J. Thompson.

Whitson was arrested and charged after the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office Tactical Team used an armored vehicle to approach the home in the 6600 block of 159th Street Northeast, along the east shore of Diamond Lake.

The vehicle's public address system was used to contact Whitson, who came out of the home and was taken into custody without incident.

According to the complaint, Sheriff Dan Hartog and a deputy were dispatched to the home on a report that Whitman had threatened two people and then reached for a 9mm handgun. They had fled the home, but Whitson was still inside.

Other deputies set up a perimeter around the home, evacuated other nearby residences and dispatched the tactical team.

The two people told deputies Whitson is the owner of the property and that they began renting the property on Jan. 1. Whitson had later returned from living out of state and had moved in and lived with them.

They reported seeing Whitson sitting at the kitchen table with a handgun on the table and then him cussing them and threatening to shoot them. They had called a relative, who called law enforcement, and they fled the home.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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