Ramsey County task force confiscated guns, drugs after shooting Matthew Vanhofwegen

Categories: Crime
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It's still unclear why Matthew Vanhofwegen was shot multiple times last month by a single police rifle. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, a division of the MN Department of Public Safety, says an investigation is "active and ongoing."

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Court documents suggest that Vanhofwegen kept several guns around his New Brighton home. But a drug task force didn't know that for certain until after the raid.

In mid-August, an anonymous informant known in court documents as "Concerned Citizen" told a New Brighton police officer and investigator with the Ramsey County Violent Crime Enforcement Team that Vanhofwegen kept marijuana plants on the second-floor deck. Another unnamed source spoke generally of the home as a "problem" in the neighborhood.

The investigator checked with other New Brighton police officers, who said they'd "recently observed an increase in late night vehicle traffic" at the home. It's located in the 1500 block of 20th Avenue Northwest.

Investigators went to inspect for themselves. One of them would later write:
It appeared [from neighboring property] that a black draping had been put up around the deck's railings to conceal the plants, however, some of it had fallen down exposing the suspected marijuana plants.
The investigators also looked at Vanhofwegen's conviction record in Ramsey County, which consists of non-violent crimes -- possession of drug paraphernalia (1988), drug offense misdemeanor (1989). Judge Joy D. Bartscher signed the warrant.

According to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Vanhofwegen spotted officers from across Ramsey County approaching his home, around 2 p.m. Aug. 27, and went inside. The officers knocked and announced they had a warrant, but he didn't respond. The forced the door open.

In the hallway of his home, Vanhofwegen allegedly grabbed the barrel of Maplewood Police Officer Joseph Steiner's rifle. "A struggle ensued and Officer Steiner shot Vanhofwegen," according to a statement released the next day.

Steiner was placed on a standard administrative leave. He has not returned messages seeking comment.

Vanhofwegen was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center. Court documents show that police walked away with Vanhofwegen's

  • Fox Model B double barrel 12-gauge shotgun and shells
  • Marlin Model 1894 .44-caliber lever-action rifle and bullets
  • Black .32-caliber Colt and bullets
  • Box of .38-caliber bullets
  • Brown leather gun case
  • Various knives and nun-chucks
  • Five marijuana plants, bags of seeds and marijuana
  • Dried-put marijuana plants
  • Two grow lights and a metal ballast
  • Small bag and bottles containing unknown powders
  • Bottles containing unknown pills
  • Box of "drug paraphernalia"
  • Metal plate covered with drug residue, a straw and credit cards
  • IDs and cell phone

Randy Gustafson, a spokesman for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, had no comment on the case. He also did not have an update on Vanhofwegen's condition.

No charges have been filed against Vanhofwegen.

-- Email Jesse Marx at jmarx@citypages.com or follow him on Twitter at @marxjesse
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