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Fargo standoff suspect denies threats

Zachary Branson Steffens

A Fargo man involved in a nearly eight-hour standoff with police in downtown Fargo in November says he never threatened police and feels he was targeted.

"If they would have knocked on the door in the first place, I would have just came down there," Zachary Branson Steffens told The Forum in an interview after he was charged in connection with the Nov. 2 incident.

Cass County District Court documents state:

Officers initially responded to The Gardner apartment complex, 26 Roberts St., after receiving a report of criminal mischief.

When they approached Apartment 208, officers heard discussion about drug dealing and how it would take SWAT to get them. An officer was about to knock on the door when someone inside mentioned seeing the squad car and instructed another individual to go get a rifle.

Steffens was arrested after officers used a flash device to force open the door. He was found asleep in a bedroom with a Sig Arms 556 assault rifle with a scope under the bed.

Authorities also found drug paraphernalia and marijuana, leading to the three possession charges Steffens pleaded not guilty to on Thursday.

In the phone interview from the Cass County Jail, Steffens, 21, agreed that he was sleeping when officers arrived, but said he never threatened to shoot them. He said he didn't know the guns and ammunition were in the residence, calling the entire situation "ridiculous."

Steffens agreed he possessed the marijuana and drug paraphernalia, including a scale, as the charges allege.

"The only reason the scale is up there is so I can weigh the (expletive deleted) that I buy and make sure I'm not getting ripped off," he said.

Steffens felt police were out to get him.

"They just have this vendetta because, I don't know, I guess they know that I sell pot or whatever," he said.

His next court date is set for March 25.