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Willmar man charged as accomplice in July 5 shooting incident pleads guilty to assault on peace officer

Christian Arevalo has pleaded guilty to one felony charge of first-degree assault on a peace officer, as an accomplice after the fact. He was not alleged to have been the shooter in the July 5 incident in southwest Willmar but accused of being the getaway driver and of obstructing the investigation.

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WILLMAR — A Willmar man will be sentenced in November after pleading guilty to his involvement in an incident in July when shots were fired at a Willmar Police Department officer.

The officer returned fire and chased the suspects on foot until they fled in a car. Neither the officer nor others standing in the area were injured in the exchange of gunfire.

Christian Martin Arevalo, 25, pleaded guilty earlier this month to a felony charge of first-degree assault on a peace officer — aiding an offender/accomplice after the fact. In a plea agreement, 19 other felony charges were dismissed. He had been accused of aiding the alleged shooter in the July 5 incident and obstructing the investigation.

Other charges included attempted second-degree murder, multiple charges of first-degree or second-degree assault. Some of the charges included the phrases “liability for crimes of another” or “accomplice after the fact.”

Christian Martin Arevalo custody photo
Christian Martin Arevalo
Contributed / Minnesota Department of Corrections

Christian Arevalo entered an Alford plea Sept. 16 in Kandiyohi County District Court. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but agrees that the prosecution appears to have enough evidence to win a conviction at trial. An Alford plea is treated like any other guilty plea at sentencing.

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In the plea agreement, Christian Arevalo agreed to a 51-month prison sentence and is to be sentenced Nov. 10. He will get credit for the time served since he was arrested July 5. At his request, he began serving his prison sentence immediately in the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud.

Under Minnesota law, offenders must serve at least two-thirds of a sentence in custody and may serve the remaining one-third on supervised release. His expected release date is not yet listed by the state Department of Corrections pending formal sentencing.

Christian Arevalo was accused of being the getaway driver after Sebastian Arthur Arevalo, 28, of Willmar, allegedly fired multiple gunshots at an officer with the Willmar Police Department early July 5 in southwest Willmar.

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Sebastian Arevalo’s next scheduled court date is a settlement conference on Oct. 26. He is in custody at the Kandiyohi County Jail on $1 million bail. He faces 10 felony charges and one gross misdemeanor charge related to the shooting and its aftermath.

The charges include attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault on a peace officer and multiple charges of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

According to court records, the incident began when Willmar Police Sgt. Sam Schaefbauer responded to a call about a possible shooting on Third Street Southwest late on July 4.

As Schaefbauer inspected a bullet hole in the window of a home, and spoke to residents in the front yard, several people approached the house.

Schaefbauer said that Sebastian Arevalo appeared to be trying to start a confrontation by yelling and swearing. He also had his hand hidden in the front waistband of his pants and seemed to be holding something as he walked.

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Schaefbauer raised his firearm and turned his flashlight toward Sebastian Arevalo, who then pulled out a firearm. Schaefbauer ordered Sebastian Arevalo to drop the weapon, but he fired toward the officer and the others in the yard, according to the court file.

Court documents indicate that Schaefbauer immediately shot toward Sebastian Arevalo to stop the barrage of bullets being fired toward him and others.

Schaefbauer took cover behind a tree while the others ran for cover.

Sebastian Arevalo allegedly continued firing as he began to walk backward, even after Schaefbauer returned fire. Schaefbauer saw Sebastian Arevalo, Christian Arevalo and two other males running north. Schaefbauer ran after the men, but they fled in a white vehicle.

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A second Willmar police officer arrived and pursued the vehicle. He found it at a home on Second Street Southwest. Sebastian Arevalo and Christian Arevalo were arrested there.

Multiple bullet casings were found around the yard and driveway where the shooting took place. There were bullet holes in a vehicle parked on the street and in two nearby homes. Witnesses described hearing anywhere from five to 15 shots during the confrontation.

According to court documents, Christian Arevalo later told a detective that he did not shoot at anyone but did drive to Third Street Southwest. Christian Arevalo said he was angry, because someone had pointed a gun at his sister and brother on July 3 at his home.

Christian Arevalo said it was his idea to go to Third Street, but he expected a fist fight and didn’t know Sebastian Arevalo had a gun, according to court records. He denied knowing anything about a shooting on Third Street.

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Sebastian Arevalo declined to speak to officers following the shooting.

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: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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