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Willmar stabbing suspect in custody, facing assault, arson charges

WILLMAR — The 19-year-old Willmar man who allegedly stabbed a woman this morning in northwest Willmar has been taken into custody, according to Willmar Police Chief Jim Felt.

Exsavor Rene Cruz was arrested when law enforcement officers served a search warrant on a home along the 1500 block of Gorton Avenue Northwest. The arrest came around 1:15 p.m. today and was without incident, Felt said.

The initial charges against Cruz are second-degree assault with a weapon and attempted first-degree arson.

The condition of the victim, Maria H. Garcia, age 64 of Willmar, was unknown to police this afternoon. She was transferred to a metro hospital by medical helicopter.

The stabbing was reported at 8:11 a.m. today along the 400 block of 13th Street Northwest and officers arrived to find the woman with multiple stab wounds at a neighboring residence, where she had gone for assistance.

Garcia was able to give a statement to police and identify the suspect.

Because of the violent nature of the call, the number of people involved and potential weapons, assistance was sought from other agencies and the Willmar Police Department SWAT team was activated. The team entered and searched the home, but found no one. However, further evidence of the assault was found in the home.

While investigating the original crime scene, officers recovered what they believed to be the weapon used in the stabbing along with evidence of what appeared to be an arson attempt, possibly to conceal the crime, according to Felt.

The investigation is continuing. No further suspects are being sought in this case, Felt said. Cruz is believed to be a relative of the victim through marriage.

Assisting in the response and arrest were the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office and its SWAT team and medic team, the State Patrol, state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the CEE-VI Drug Task Force and the Willmar ambulance and fire departments.

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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