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Teen faces felony charges for knife incident at Target in Willmar

WILLMAR — A Willmar teenager faces two felony charges after allegedly threatening a store employee Thursday evening at the Willmar Target store.

Omar Yanez Jr., 17, of Willmar, made his first appearance Friday in Kandiyohi County District Court on two felony charges of second-degree assault and terroristic threats. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

He was released to the custody of a parent Friday. His next appearance is Feb. 11.

Felony charges against 16- and 17-year-old juvenile defendants are public record.

According to the petition, Willmar police were notified around 8:10 p.m. Thursday that there was a man with a knife making threats at the Target store and that the man had fled in a sport utility vehicle. One officer pursued the vehicle while another officer went to the store, where the employee reported that a Latino man, with tattoos on his face, hands and wrists, was in the electronics department attempting to use a knife to cut the wire holding a cell phone to the display counter.

The man, who was later identified as Yanez, allegedly turned to the employee, held up a knife and threatened to hurt the employee if the employee kept following Yanez. Yanez left the department and the employee called for law enforcement. The employee said that Yanez displayed the knife and threatened him twice more, once inside the store and again as Yanez walked into the parking lot. The last threat was that the employee should come outside so Yanez could stab him.

Officers reviewed the surveillance video of the incident and a Gang Enforcement Officer recognized Yanez from the footage. Yanez was later located at the Lakeview Inn and claimed he had a knife, but that he didn’t have it with him at Target because he had received it from another individual when he arrived at the motel.

He showed officers the knife, was arrested and taken to the Prairie Lakes Youth Program pending the court appearance.

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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