And yet, another reason to arm yourself and compel legislators to pass a “castle doctrine”.

Duluth man accused of threatening women in New Year’s home invasion
By Tom Olsen Today at 8:13 p.m.

t2017 -- St. Louis County Sheriff's Office -- 010617.N.DNT.Invasion -- Phillip Julius Butenhoff, dob: 07/11/1985

t2017 — St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office — 010617.N.DNT.Invasion — Phillip Julius Butenhoff, dob: 07/11/1985

A Duluth man allegedly left a New Year’s party in the city’s Chester Park neighborhood, broke into a nearby residence to steal electronics and ended up holding two women against their will for an hour while discussing his “whole life story” — then returned to the party and threatened to shoot three more people, including a 2-year-old child.

That’s according to a criminal complaint charging Phillip Julius Butenhoff Jr., 31, with seven felonies in connection with the incident in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day.

Police said Butenhoff threatened two women with a hammer and claimed to have a gun after they caught him stealing DVDs from their living room at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. When they were able to escape, Butenhoff allegedly returned to the party with a TV and held three people there against their will in a bedroom.

Officers broke down the front door of the residence and took Butenhoff into custody after shooting him in the leg with a less-lethal round, according to the charges.

Prosecutors said use of a controlled substance appeared to be a factor in the incident.

Butenhoff was arraigned Thursday in State District Court in Duluth on charges of first-degree burglary, false imprisonment and five counts of threats of violence.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Eric Hylden granted Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Rebekka Stumme’s request to set bail at $75,000.

“The level of fear and trauma that was caused to all victims in this matter is incomprehensible,” the prosecutor wrote in a memorandum.

According to the charges:

Duluth police officers were dispatched to a residence on the 700 block of North 18th Avenue East at 1:22 a.m. on the report of an in-progress burglary.

Officers spoke to two women, who said they were awakened by an unknown male in their living room about an hour earlier. One of the women said she found the defendant collecting DVDs and electronics, and wrapping them in a blanket near the door.

When the women confronted the man and told him to leave, they said he claimed to have a gun, patting at his side.

The victims said he forced them to stay in the residence with him while he discussed his life and showed them his tattoos. At one point, he noticed a cell phone and smashed it with a hammer from the house, they said.

They said at several points the suspect said he was going to “splatter some brains” — raising the hammer and cocking his arm while stepping toward the women, as if to strike them. Neither woman suffered physical injuries.

The victims said they were able to run from the residence and call 911 when they noticed the defendant become “kind of unfocused.”

Responding officers canvassed the area and saw two people running into a nearby residence on the 1800 block of East Eighth Street.

A renter told police that Butenhoff was among “many people” celebrating the New Year inside the residence. She said the defendant had left the party and came back some time later with a flat-screen TV that she had never seen before.

Officers were able to make cellphone contact with a man who said he was inside the home, being held against his will by Butenhoff. He said the defendant was threatening to shoot him and two other people, including the child, if they left a bedroom.

Police made a forced entry and found that Butenhoff was holed up in a second-floor bedroom. He emerged after a series of verbal commands.

Believing the defendant could be armed, officers made the decision to use a less-lethal launcher — a tool introduced by police last year that fires a high-speed 40-millimeter sponge designed to incapacitate the target without penetrating the skin or causing serious injury. Butenhoff was struck in the leg and arrested without incident.

Police said Butenhoff agreed to give a statement, but changed his story several times and was unable to tell it sequentially.

He allegedly stated that another person in the house had told him to go down the street to get some TV cords and alleged that another man had threatened him with a firearm.

Police said Butenhoff also acknowledged that he walked to the residence, but stated that he knocked on the door and was met by an upset female. He claimed that he had told the woman to call 911, police said.

During a search of the Eighth Street residence, police said they discovered several items missing from the house on 18th Avenue East, including an identification card belonging to one of the women.

Butenhoff has an extensive criminal history, with a number of convictions in St. Louis County for controlled substances and theft.

He is due back in court on Jan. 25.

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