Klatt pleads guilty to Fairfax shooting


OLIVIA – A Fairfax man has pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder in the shooting of an employee at a Fairfax convenience store/service station in January.

Michael John Klatt, 61, entered an Alford plea in Renville County District Court to attempted second-degree murder with intent - not premeditated and to second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but agrees that the prosecution probably has enough evidence for a conviction. The plea is treated like a normal guilty plea at sentencing.

Klatt is to be sentenced Oct. 7. He has been in the Renville County Jail since January on bail of $500,000 for unconditional release and $200,000 for release with conditions.

Klatt was accused of shooting a 55-year-old man, an employee at the Weis Oil-Smart Mart Jan. 11 in Fairfax. After the shooting, the victim disarmed Klatt and beat him into unconsciousness, according to court records.


The victim was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where a bullet was said to be lodged at the base of his skull and considered inoperable, according to the criminal complaint.

Klatt was alleged to have brought his vehicle to the business Jan. 8 for an oil change. While there, he spoke to the male employee about a female employee who had ended a relationship with Klatt.

Klatt is said to have walked to the business the morning of Jan. 11 with a loaded .22-caliber rifle down his pants leg.

When both the male employee and the female employee were inside the business, Klatt allegedly entered the business and pulled the rifle out of his pants leg and alternated between pointing it at the man and the woman. After Klatt allegedly tried to force the two into an office, the man went into a different office. He grabbed the rifle when it was pointed into the office where the woman was hiding.

Klatt is accused of discharging the rifle, and the buillet caused significant damage to the male employee’s finger before entering his face beside his nose.

According to the criminal complaint, the male employee was able to disarm and beat Klatt. He then secured the rifle. During the incident, the magazine tube came out of the rifle, showing 11 unspent rounds.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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