Mark Wasson: The police stopped by last night

Summary: West Central Tribune reporter Mark Wasson had an encounter with Willmar Police Wednesday night due to a juvenile hostage situation in a neighboring apartment. He writes about the experience for him and his dog. All ended well.

A SWAT truck parked in my driveway Wednesday night. Mark Wasson / West Central Tribune

So an interesting thing happened Wednesday night. Police knocked my door in and came in SWAT-style.

Guns up, flashlights illuminating my dark staircase, shouting that they’re the police.

I would like to say I used a manly voice to say my hands are up but I’m sure it was more falsetto than a baritone.

I was handcuffed and my apartment was searched. They ask if I’m alone. I say it’s just me and my dog.

“Is she friendly?” someone asks.


I’m hesitant. She is but...she’s a jerk. I can picture her barking and possibly attacking someone but she’s also a coward, often cowering behind me after getting too big for her britches at other bigger dogs.

“She’s friendly,” I said.

I sat there thinking about what I could have done. I mean, I’ve got parking tickets but this would surely be an overreaction to that, right?

The officer who is watching over myself and my dog tells me he’ll explain the situation once the apartment was cleared.

“Just to make sure everything is safe,” he said.

“Makes sense,” I thought.

No worries. I’d been in handcuffs before. Even to jail. It’s not so bad. They give you a fruit pie and some slippers.

This is made even weirder because I cover law enforcement and public safety for the West Central Tribune. I've written about multiple search warrants like this. I'm honestly wondering what exactly I wrote to upset them this much.


neighbors door
My neighbors door Wednesday night. Officers cleaned up the glass. Mark Wasson / West Central Tribune

With my apartment now clear, the officer tells me there was a hostage situation, a minor was being held against their will. I live in a duplex and they had a search warrant for the entire structure.

While he was explaining the situation to me, my dog decides to walk down my staircase toward the now broken and open door.

“What’s your dog’s name?” he asks.

“Bella,” I said.

“Bella,” he says, calling my dog back to him. “I don’t want to go after her in case she runs out the door.”

She doesn’t move. Emboldened by her harrowing experience and her inherent defiance, she stands there. Staring at us with her big dopey eyes.

“Bella,” I call. “Bella, come here!” I say more sternly. “Bella,” the officer calls.


No movement. Even in the best of times she’s stubborn.

The officer moves toward her, causing her to shuffle her barrel-chested body down the steps, eventually crossing the battered door and out onto the patio where an armored Humvee and multiple men with body armor and M-4s await her triumphant escape.

The officer sighs, removes my handcuffs from my hands behind me and then handcuffs my hands in the front. He lets me go grab her.

I walk outside, still handcuffed, to grab Bella. There are people gathered across the street. I hope no one takes a picture.

I bring her back. The officer IDs me and they figure I don’t have anything to do with the hostage situation, which is good because I don’t, and he lets me out of the handcuffs.

No jail for me. I am immediately upset I will not be eating a fruit pie tonight.

A re-enactment of Bella making her escape Wednesday night. Mark Wasson / West Central Tribune

I call my landlord after an officer offers to talk with him about the broken door.


I explain the situation to my landlord and I’m met with silence, which is to be expected because who expects to get a call about a hostage situation late on a Wednesday night?

Wednesdays are for sleep pants and TV. Hostages seem much more like a weekend thing.

The officers are polite and nice to my dog, and through conversation with them, I learn that someone has been arrested and the minor is OK. No one is hurt. Sounds like a good day even though I never thought I'd be on the other side of a situation like this as a reporter.

The officers hang around a bit to question some people in the apartment below. They clean up shattered glass and door splinters, something that surprises me. Truly a jack-of-all-trades police force we have here in Willmar.

I talk with my landlord and the police a bit, everyone pets Bella. She is pleased.

I am not. I still want a fruit pie.

Mark Wasson is a West Central Tribune reporter covering law enforcement and public safety.


Mark Wasson photo.CUE.jpg
Mark Wasson, West Central Tribune reporter

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at
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