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6th Judicial District Judge Shaun Floerke

Duluth judge packing heat thwarts break-in

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A Duluth judge began 2011 as a crime victim but took command of the situation by grabbing a .45 caliber pistol from his safe and subduing a man who broke into his family's Piedmont Heights home on New Year's Day.

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Sixth Judicial District Judge Shaun Floerke intercepted a 26-year-old Duluth man who entered his home by breaking a window about 3 a.m. Saturday. The police report said the suspect was so intoxicated he couldn't talk and he refused to submit to a breath test, said police spokesman Jim Hansen.

The suspect is being held in the St. Louis County Jail on $10,000 bail. He's booked on preliminary charges of third-degree criminal damage to property and trespassing.

Hansen said there had been a fight reported within a block of Floerke's house earlier in the evening and one of the men involved in the fight was the suspect who later broke into the judge's home with his face already bloodied.

Hansen said Floerke detained the suspect in the entryway to his home and reported that the man cooperated with him until police arrived and took him into custody.

There doesn't appear to be any connection between Floerke's position as a judge and the fact that his house was broken into. The suspect reportedly told authorities that he didn't know who lived in the house. It's unclear whether he was simply confused or had a motive for breaking in.

The suspect has had 20 criminal cases filed against him, but a dozen are traffic-related and five involved marijuana. He has one misdemeanor burglary conviction. He's expected to be arraigned today.

Because the crime involves a Northeastern Minnesota judge, a judge from another judicial district will probably preside over the case.

Floerke is the assistant chief judge of the 6th Judicial District with his chambers in the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth. According to police reports, Floerke's wife called 911 to report the burglary in progress at 3:03 a.m.

The couple has five children between the ages of 7 and 16. Two of the children were awakened during the incident.

Floerke said the Code of Judicial Conduct precluded him from commenting on the incident.

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