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Man found guilty of attempted murder of police officer in West Fargo standoff

Jan-Michel Wangstad

FARGO — A Cass County District Court jury has found Jan-Michel Wangstad guilty of a charge of attempted murder in connection with an armed standoff at a West Fargo motel in March 2016.

Jurors began deliberations late Thursday afternoon, Nov. 30, and returned a verdict Friday morning, Dec. 1.

According to defense attorney Steven Mottinger, the trial hinged on whether jurors believed Wangstad intentionally fired at law enforcement officers during the standoff at the Rodeway Inn on March 18, 2016.

Police were called to the motel on reports of suspicious behavior, and when officers reached Wangstad's room he pulled a gun from his waistband and fired the weapon, according to court documents. A standoff ensued, and Wangstad eventually surrendered.

Earlier this year Wangstad, 39, of Breckenridge, Minn., pleaded guilty to charges related to the standoff, including terrorizing, reckless endangerment, illegal possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance.

Wangstad was sentenced to five years in prison on the terrorizing charge, while sentencing on the other charges he pleaded guilty to was postponed pending the resolution of the latest trial.

Unless sentencing is enhanced, the attempted murder charge Wangstad faced is a Class A felony with a minimum sentence of four years and a maximum of 20 years. If enhanced, a Class A felony may carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Cass County Assistant State's Attorney Reid Brady said his office has filed a notice seeking sentencing enhancement in the case. "We don't get many cases where officers are shot at," he said.

Brady said Judge Douglas Herman indicated that sentencing would likely be set for the week of Dec. 18.

Dave Olson
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