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SWAT team and K9 unit used in arrest of Stearns County man following pursuit in stolen vehicle

A Stearns County SWAT team was used to arrest a 35-year-old man Thursday at his apartment in Holdingford following a chase in a stolen vehicle. The man, who is in custody in the Stearns County Jail, currently faces charges of burglary, criminal damage to property and fleeing a peace officer.

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HOLDINGFORD — A 35-year-old man from Holdingford was arrested Thursday morning in his apartment by a SWAT team following a string of crimes that allegedly involved the theft of vehicles and tools, punching a homeowner in the face and fleeing from law enforcement.

According to a news release from the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office, the incident began around 6:58 a.m. Thursday when the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a burglary that had just occurred. The victim said a man broke into his garage, stole tools and loaded them into a white truck. After being confronted, the suspect – who claimed to have a knife – punched the victim several times in the face and then fled the burglary scene in a white Chevrolet pickup.

A deputy attempted to stop the suspect in the area of Stearns County Road 17, east of state Highway 238 in Krain Township, west of Holdingford. The suspect initially stopped but then continued to flee. During the chase the suspect forced another vehicle off the road and into the ditch. That driver was not injured, according to the sheriff’s report.

After stopping on Main Street the suspect went into his apartment and law enforcement established a perimeter until additional units arrived. He was later identified as Christopher Kleve, 35, of Holdingford.

A search warrant was obtained and after negotiators failed to make contact with the suspect, the Stearns County SWAT team was used to enter the apartment.

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According to the news release, the suspect did not respond to verbal commands, but with the assistance of a K9 unit he was taken into custody shortly after 11 a.m.

The subsequent investigation revealed that the pickup Kleve was driving had been stolen earlier from a residence in the 29000 block of Co. Rd. 17 in Millwood Township. A snowmobile was reported stolen from a nearby residence, where another truck – that had been stolen from Sauk Centre – was found.

The suspect is being held in the Stearns County Jail on two counts of second-degree burglary, fleeing police in a motor vehicle and criminal damage to property. Additional charges are possible pending the conclusion of the investigation, according to the sheriff’s office.

The Melrose Police Department, Sauk Centre Police Department, Minnesota DNR and the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the incident.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at clange@wctrib.com or 320-894-9750
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