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Minn. man charged with attempted murder for shooting at plane

Chad Lynndell Olson

FERTILE, Minn.—A Polk County man has been charged with second-degree attempted murder for shooting an airplane flying over his property last week, according to court documents.

Chad Lynndell Olson, 51, was charged Thursday in Polk County District for allegedly shooting a Cessna small aircraft with a high-powered rifle from his property on Highway 32 northeast of the Fertile airfield on Oct. 6.

Olson has a history of making threats and shooting at planes flying over his home, according to a criminal complaint against him.

On Oct. 7, an area pilot told a Polk County Sheriff's deputy that he heard an odd "twang" sound while flying his 1974 Cessna Skywagon the previous day in the area of Minnesota highways 32 and 102 near the Fertile airfield, where he had practiced touch-and-go landings.

While washing his plane the next day, he found a bullet hole in the fuselage that had not been there when he did a preflight check of the plane the day before. The bullet entered near cables and pulls and could have caused structural failure if they were damaged, the pilot said. He estimated the damage to be $20,000.

A deputy confirmed the hole was made by a high-powered rifle.

On Oct. 9, an investigator spoke with a man who said he was at Olson's property at 42012 Highway 32 S. on Oct. 2 when he saw Olson shooting a .30-06 rifle as a plane flew overhead, according to the complaint. The witness later told investigators he had seen Olson shoot at planes on four occasions earlier this year and that Olson had told him about three other times he had shot at airplanes. Olson said he was using lethal force to defend himself because the airplanes were "engaged in terrorism."

The Sheriff's Office also had received a complaint in May from Olson's neighbor about hearing gunshots as an airplane flew overhead, the complaint said. It also heard from a Federal Aviation Administration employee in August that Olson had been making harassing phone calls to the FAA about flights over his property and saying he would have to use lethal force if threatened by them.

Olson was arrested Thursday and made his first appearance Friday.

He faces one count of second-degree attempted murder, one count of second-degree assault and two counts of criminal damage to property. The attempted murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and the assault charge has a maximum of seven years in prison.

Christopher Bjorke

Christopher Bjorke is the content editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He first worked for the Herald in 1997 and most recently since 2011. His jobs at the Herald have included covering local government, state politics, business and economics, and the health care industry. 

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