Dassel, Minnesota, man responsible for August 2022 standoff sentenced to jail, five years of probation
Aaron Mitchel Peterson, of Dassel, was arrested in August of 2022 after a day-long standoff with law enforcement at his residence. A jury convicted him of 12 related counts, and he was sentenced this week in Meeker County District Court.
LITCHFIELD — A man who made threats leading to a day-long standoff with law enforcement at his residence in rural Dassel was sentenced to 365 days in jail and five years of probation.
Aaron Mitchel Peterson, 32, was deemed guilty by a jury in January on all 12 charges filed against him in the Aug. 1, 2022, incident. Those convictions include an amended felony charge of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, a felony threats of violence charge and 10 more gross misdemeanor charges for possessing firearms or ammunition while not eligible to do so and for drug possession.
Judge Stephanie Beckman on Monday in Meeker County District Court sentenced Peterson to a 36-month prison sentence for the assault charge, stayed for five years while he serves probation. That sentence is a downward dispositional departure. According to Minnesota's standard sentencing guidelines, Peterson could have served a presumptive prison sentence.
Beckman ordered an 18-month prison sentence, which was also stayed for five years, for the felony threats of violence charge.
If he successfully completes probation, he will not have to serve the prison time.
Conditions for Peterson include completing a behavioral treatment program and mental health diagnostic assessment and following all recommendations. Peterson will have to write a letter of apology to victims, submit to random searches and give a DNA sample. He is also barred from owning or operating firearms or other dangerous weapons.
Beckman also sentenced Peterson to serve 365 days of jail with credit for 279 days already served. The sentencing order also lists 30-day jail segments in each of the next four years that may be deferred if Peterson is in compliance with probation.
Peterson had been held in custody since January 2023. According to the sentencing order, Peterson was allowed to be released directly to treatment beginning May 9. He is not shown as in custody by the state Department of Corrections.
According to an amended criminal complaint, on Aug. 1, 2022, the Meeker County Sheriff's Office had initially been dispatched to Peterson's residence after he had threatened to shoot up a family member's home when they refused his demands to return his guns.
At the time, Peterson was on probation for a felony offense and could not legally possess firearms, thus the family member refused to turn them over. According to the criminal complaint, the felony offense from a few years prior had also resulted in a standoff between Peterson and law enforcement.
Peterson told the family member that if they called law enforcement that they would be responsible if anyone got hurt, allegedly stating it was "going to be the end of it."
The family member reported to law enforcement that they believed Peterson was suicidal, using controlled substances, and that he was possibly armed. Given the nature of the report, a SWAT response was enabled and a deputy posted himself outside Peterson's home anticipating the SWAT team's arrival.
A man who drove away from Peterson's residence told the deputy that Peterson had a shotgun stored somewhere in the house and that he did not appear under the influence of any drugs.
During the standoff, officers at different times reported hearing sounds they suspected were gunshots from within the home. A subsequent search after Peterson's arrest found nine firearms and evidence that Peterson had fired shots in the home during the standoff in the direction of law enforcement officers.
According to the complaint, after continued attempts to communicate with Peterson and deploying gas, officers breached a windowless bathroom on the main floor believing it could have been used as a hiding spot around 8 p.m. the next evening.
Communications continued and chemical rounds were used. Peterson eventually surrendered without incident, was medically cleared and arrested.