Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - A Pine Island man who opened fire on law enforcement officers during a lengthy standoff in 2022 has admitted to a first-degree assault charge.

According to court records, 38-year-old Michael Molitor entered a Norgaard plea through a plea deal that calls for the dismissal of a second-degree assault charge, a terroristic threats charge, and a charge of committing a crime while wearing a bulletproof vest. The Norgaard plea means he admits guilt but has no recollection of his actions due to alcohol intoxication.

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The criminal complaint filed against 37-year-old Michael Molitor indicates the standoff began around 10:45 AM on August on August 20, 2022, when a Goodhue County Sheriff’s Deputy was dispatched to a residence to conduct a welfare check on Molitor after he had reportedly made suicidal statements and threatened he would commit suicide by cop. While in contact with dispatch and the deputy, Molitor said he was armed and holding a woman hostage.

Goodhue County Sheriff's Office photo
Goodhue County Sheriff's Office photo

The court document says the deputy began conversing with Molitor around 11:20 a.m. The conversation lasted for almost an hour and included Molitor saying he had several firearms and threatening to shoot at the deputy’s squad vehicle. The complaint says Molitor was seen in the garage of the residence with an AR-15, wearing body armor and drinking beer.

Machine Gun
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Goodhue County SWAT and the Rochester Police Department/Olmsted County Emergency Response unit arrived on scene and began forming a plan to get Molitor to surrender. Law enforcement made their first move at 6:10 p.m. when tactical teams deployed a flash bang in front of the home and Molitor was then seen at the rear of the residence. The complaint says Molitor then emerged at the front of the home around 7:30 p.m. and was seen wearing body armor and a rifle on his upper body as he spoke with negotiators by phone outside of the residence.

Goodhue County Sheriff's Office photo
Goodhue County Sheriff's Office photo

According to the criminal complaint, he held the rifle in a “low ready position” towards an armored law enforcement vehicle before going back inside the home. The SWAT team then used an arm of the armored vehicle to breach a window in the home and officers fired five chemical rounds into the residence to try and isolate Molitor into a single room.

While deploying the chemicals, law enforcement reported gunfire erupting from inside the residence and estimated Molitor had fired between 20 and 22 rounds, one of which struck below the driver's side window of the armored vehicle. Moments later Molitor reappeared in the garage but he refused to comply with law enforcement demands to get on the ground and still appeared to be armed. A member of the tactical team then fired a non-lethal paper ball at Molitor which caused him to retreat.

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Moments later Molitor re-appeared and was brought into custody. Emergency teams searched the home and did not find another person inside.

The plea deal does not include a sentencing recommendation. Molitor's sentencing hearing was scheduled for June 26th.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. Resource information is provided for free as well as a chat message service. To speak directly to a professional, call 988. You are not alone and help is available. Every life is important.

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