Laser pointer leads to SWAT standoff in Bloomington - New York News

Laser pointer leads to SWAT standoff in Bloomington

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Bloomington police and bomb squad at 90th and Wentworth. Photo by Matthew Milbrandt. Bloomington police and bomb squad at 90th and Wentworth. Photo by Matthew Milbrandt.
Bloomington police and bomb squad at 90th and Nicollet. Photo by Matthew Milbrandt. Bloomington police and bomb squad at 90th and Nicollet. Photo by Matthew Milbrandt.
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (KMSP) -

Bloomington police were in a standoff with a man who allegedly broke into a vacant house and was seen pointing a laser out of a window early Tuesday morning.

Even before the standoff began, neighbors said Paul Solfelt's behavior was odd -- but if there's one thing to be said about him, it's that he certainly has a tolerance for tear gas.

Around 4:15 a.m. Tuesday, someone walking by the house noticed a laser pointer being aimed out of a window at cars. That witness knew the house was supposed to be vacant and called police. Police received at least one other similar report.

Officers arrived at the house and Sollfelt made vague threats to police, but nothing serious. Bloomington SWAT was called in, and they entered the vacant house using a smoke bomb as a distraction.

"Not knowing who's in there and what sort of weapons systems might be involved because of the laser, we attempted contact and a SWAT team was called," explained Rick Hart, of the Bloomington Police Department.

Solfelt fled to a neighboring building, which police believe is his apartment. He barricaded himself inside and refused to leave. The other residents were then evacuated. 

Soon, canisters of tear gas fired through his front window would leave holes in his walls while concussion grenades destroyed the interior.

"It looks like somebody blew the door off," Charline Kurtz, who lives in the apartment building, told FOX 9 News. "The ceiling is damaged, and the wall."

A search of his apartment revealed several other laser pointers, but no weapons.

After a brief stop at the hospital. Solfelt was booked on suspicion of burglary. He could still face additional charges.

A total of 15 blocks were established as perimeter in the area of 90th Street and Nicollet Avenue during the standoff, with restricted access in and out.

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