Man Allegedly Threatens to Harm University of Minnesota Students, Prompts Heavy Police Presence in Watson

WATSON, Minnesota – Law enforcement officials have surrounded the home of a suspect in an alleged threat, leading to the shutdown of a portion of the city of Watson. The University of Minnesota identified the suspect as 41-year-old Joseph Mark Rongstad, who reportedly made a threat on social media to “start killing kids” on the Twin Cities campus. The university canceled its alert around 1 p.m. after announcing that the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office had contained Rongstad in their county.

Posts made on a Facebook page for Rongstad’s business, which appear to be from him, indicate that he is currently inside his Watson home and can see law enforcement officers outside. A heavy police presence has been reported in Watson, with officers using a loudspeaker to try and persuade Rongstad to leave his house.

As a precautionary measure, Watson’s city hall and the local Lutheran church have been opened as temporary shelters for residents who are unable to return home due to the law enforcement perimeter. However, as of 3 p.m., no one had sought refuge in these locations.

Law enforcement has blocked off Minnesota Highway 7 and is diverting traffic to avoid the area surrounding Rongstad’s home, which has a direct view of the highway. Multiple agencies, including the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, are involved in the response. An armored vehicle, helicopter, drone, and ambulance are also on the scene.

Despite the presence of an open filling station, customers remain tight-lipped about the ongoing situation. Officers in squad cars are urging individuals in the vicinity of the suspect’s house to leave immediately, as they are within the potential line of fire.

For now, Watson’s residents and law enforcement are patiently awaiting a peaceful resolution.

In summary, law enforcement has surrounded the home of Joseph Mark Rongstad in Watson, Minnesota, following an alleged threat made by him on social media. The situation has resulted in the shutdown of a portion of the city, with law enforcement agencies working to contain the suspect. Residents have been provided with temporary shelter options, and traffic has been diverted from the area. Multiple agencies are involved in the response, aiming for a peaceful resolution.