Coon Rapids group home causing concern for police, neighbors

- Police and residents in Coon Rapids, Minnesota are speaking out about a vulnerable adult living in a state-run group home whose violent behavior has brought officers to the neighborhood at least 46 times since last July.

"First thing we do when we get up in the morning is look across the street to see if there's police and an ambulance there," neighbor, Bob Krahn said.

"I'm worried about a violent confrontation between this young man and the officers who are responding," said Coon Rapids Police Chief Brad Wise.

Earlier this month, the Fox 9 Investigators reported that just one person lives in the home and at least three state employees are with him 24 hours a day, seven days a week helping him learn to control his violent behavior.  When added up, their payroll is nearly one million dollars a year.

STORY: 1 person, 1 home, millions of dollars

The 18-year-old resident, known by the initials W.O., was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and physically abused as a child.

"Everybody's sympathetic for the young man, he's at risk of getting hurt," Wise said.
          
According to police, W.O. has threatened to kill the group home staff or himself on numerous occasions.

PREVIOUS VIOLENT BEHAVIOR

Kaija McMillen has experienced W.O.'s unpredictable rage. He attacked her in 2015 while she was a security counselor at the state hospital in St. Peter.

"I still don't sleep well at night because of nightmares and PTSD and all that stuff," said McMillen  "He ended up throwing my head against the brick wall three times, and then kneeing me in the back of the head and then I lost consciousness from then on."

She suffered a traumatic brain injury, has battled seizures, constant headaches and has been on more than 80 different medications.

NEIGHBORS & POLICE IN THE DARK ABOUT VIOLENT BEHAVIOR 

Neighbors told the Fox 9 Investigators they weren't told about the man’s violent behavior before W.O. moved in.

According to the Department of Human Services,  two officers from Coon Rapids did visited the group home prior to the man being transferred there.

“The supervisor explained safety measures at the home, answered their questions and discussed what could prompt calls and what support would be most helpful from them,” said DHS in a statement to Fox 9.

But, Wise said they did not provide specific information about the individual’s history of violence to police.

Both the chief and neighborhood residents believe the state should have given them advance notice.

Roberta Opheim is Minnesota's Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.
      
"There's no law that requires it, in some cases there are laws that prevent it," Opheim told Fox 9. "We don't have a community notification law for everyone who's had an assault or treatment for anger management."

The law says people with learning and developmental disabilities have a right to be integrated into the community.

Opheim said with proper care and training, W.O. can learn to get his behavioral issues under control and could one day live with other people.

All of the stakeholders have legitimate concerns.

"I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that the taxpayers should be paying this kind of cost to maintain one person somewhere where he probably shouldn't be in the first place," Krahn said.

But, the state could be sued for violating federal law if it moves W.O. someplace else.

"It’s almost like a rock and a hard place for everybody," Opheim commented.

The hope is W.O. will improve. The reality is he still struggles to control his outbursts.

On a recent outing to a health club, he had to be restrained by sheriff’s deputies after hitting an employee in the face.

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