Charges filed in Cook County courthouse shootings
The state of Minnesota filed formal charges Monday against Daniel Sidney Schlienz, the Grand Marais man accused of gunning down two people Thursday afternoon in the Cook County Courthouse.
The charges include two counts of attempted first-degree premeditated murder for the shootings of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell, 45, and Grand Marais resident Gregory Thompson, 53, inside the courthouse. The charges could bring sentences of between three and 20 years under state guidelines if Schlienz is found guilty.
Because of the unusual circumstances and seriousness of the case, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said the state agreed to take on its prosecution.
"The shooting of a prosecutor and a trial witness inside a courthouse strikes at the very pillar of justice," Swanson said at a news conference in the Duluth courthouse.
Schlienz, 42, also was charged with assault in the fourth degree for attacking Cook County bailiff Gary Radloff, possession of a weapon by a felon and obstructing arrest.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Shaun Floerke set bail at $2 million bond or $1 million cash at the request of Minnesota Assistant
Attorney General Bill Klumpp, who will prosecute the case.
Klumpp asked for the high bail based on the severity of the charges, the fact that Schlienz has violated a court order and the attitude he displayed by his alleged acts after a Cook County jury convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct last week.
The court ordered the defendant to have no direct or indirect contact with the four victims in the case.
Floerke said the court is working on assigning a judge from outside the 6th Judicial District to hear the case and avoid a conflict of interest because the victims and some witnesses work in this judicial district.
Schlienz, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, handcuffs and leg shackles, shuffled into a St. Louis County Courthouse courtroom escorted by deputies at 11:20 a.m. for a five-minute hearing.
Floerke asked him for the pronunciation of his name and asked the defendant if everything in his application for a public defender was true. Schlienz said it was. The court determined that the defendant qualified to be represented by a public defender.
Three law officers were on hand outside the courtroom, and everyone entering the room passed through a portable metal detector. Three additional armed deputies were inside the courtroom.
The suspect is being held in the St. Louis County Jail, though any trial may still occur in Cook County, Klumpp said. Northeastern Minnesota Chief Public Defender Fred Friedman said selection of an attorney to represent Schlienz will depend on which judge hears the case and where the case will be tried.
St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin said Monday that he visited Thompson and Scannell over the weekend and both were doing well and recovering from the wounds.
Schlienz had just been found guilty on several counts from a five-year-old criminal sexual conduct case when the shooting occurred about 4:15 p.m. Thursday. Schlienz was released on continued bail after the jury verdict was announced, officials said, because he was not expected to be sentenced to incarceration.
"All parties understood that he would be released" after the verdict, said Molly Hicken, assistant Cook County attorney.
According to the criminal complaint, Schlienz met briefly after the verdict with his mother and his attorney in a small room outside the courtroom. He told officers that he went to his truck where he retrieved a .25-caliber handgun before re-entering the courthouse, where he walked toward County Attorney Scannell's office, where Thompson, a witness in the trial, was just leaving.
The complaint said Schlienz shot Thompson in the leg, entered the office and shot Scannell in the chest, left the office to shoot Thompson again in the knee area, then re-entered the office, where he shot Scannell in the pelvis and in the leg.
Schlienz's mother and Hicken were in the room when Radloff, the courthouse bailiff, entered the room and drew his gun. The suspect grabbed for Radloff's gun and a struggle ensued. Hicken joined with Radloff in the effort to subdue Schlienz. They disarmed Schlienz of the .25-caliber handgun, but Schlienz managed to get Radloff's handgun, firing several shots from that gun that apparently did not strike anyone.
Hicken and Radloff gained control of Radloff's gun and threw it out of the office onto a balcony.
Cook County Deputy Sheriff Dave Gilmore arrived on the scene and entered the office, where he saw Radloff attempting to pin Schlienz on the floor. Gilmore used a Taser on Schlienz's shoulder but the suspect refused to comply with orders to surrender. The deputies managed to handcuff Schlienz in front of his body during the struggle.
Minnesota State Patrol Officer Christ Thostenson then arrived in the office and also used his Taser on Schlienz's back, but the complaint said Schlienz continued to struggle.
Thostenson dragged Schlienz out of the county attorney's office to allow medical personnel in to treat Scannell. A .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun was found on the floor in the assistant county attorney's office.
Schlienz was tased a third time when he refused to comply with orders to get into a squad car.
The complaint said the tips of bullets found in Schlienz pocket had been altered with cross marks on the tips. Schlienz is alleged to have told officers that he didn't mean for Thompson to get hurt.
According to the complaint, Schlienz later told officers in a statement that he meant only to confront Scannell about the case, but when he heard Thompson thank Scannell for prosecuting, he decided to shoot both men. According to the complaint, Schlienz told officers that he had a plan to shoot but not kill Scannell if he was found guilty.
Schlienz's girlfriend said Schlienz told her he had "a plan" if he was found guilty, the complaint said.
Klumpp said the bullets narrowly missed Scannell's heart and Thompson's femoral artery, in which case both victims probably would have bled to death before paramedics could arrive.
Contrary to statements by Schlienz's father that the suspect never intended to kill anyone, Klumpp said the evidence will show he had the gun "premeditatedly and with intent to kill."
Schlienz's next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 10 at the Cook County Courthouse in Grand Marais.
Judge Mark Munger, who presided over the case in which Schlienz was convicted last week and was a witness to the shootings, attended Monday's arraignment. The judge declined comment after the hearing.