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Charges: Baudette man pointed gun at deputy, threatened family members

John Centoben

BAUDETTE, Minn.—A Baudette man could face 20 years in prison if found guilty of pointing a gun at officers during a confrontation in northwest Minnesota.

John Clarence Centoben, 75, is scheduled to appear Wednesday in Lake of the Woods District Court on a first-degree felony of use of deadly force against a peace officer. The charges stem from a July 31 call to Centoben's home after the Lake of the Woods County Sheriff's Office received reports of "increasingly alarming behavior" by the man, according to court documents.

"Recently, it had been reported that the defendant has been making threats on the lives of family members who were stopping by the defendant's home to help administer his medications," court documents said. "He had begun hallucinating and sitting at various locations in the home armed with a variety of different weapons so he would be able to shoot an imagined trespassing neighbor or Sasquatch."

Court documents refers to past experiences and reports that Centoben "almost always" was armed with at least two handguns. He allegedly said once if law enforcement entered his home, "it would not end well" and someone would get shot, court documents said.

Sheriff Gary Fish suggested shortly before 1 p.m. July 31 to contact a special response team "due to the volatile nature of the situation," according to court documents. More than four hours later, law enforcement made contact with Centoben, who did not respond to repeated commands to show officers his hands, court documents said.

He eventually pulled a handgun from his pocket and pointed it at a deputy's chest, but the deputy deployed a stun gun and hit Centoben, court documents said. The defendant fell to the ground and dropped his weapon, but he reached for the gun, court documents allege.

Officers restrained Centoben before taking him to a hospital.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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