Fire rips through standoff home in St. Michael, Minn.
ST. MICHAEL, Minn. (FOX 9) - The home that was the scene of a two-day-long standoff in St. Michael, Minnesota in June was damaged Wednesday morning by a large fire, deputies report.
According to the Wright County Sheriff's Office, fire departments responded around 9:30 a.m. for the fire at the home at 599 Central Avenue West, the home of Brandon Gardas.
We're told multiple crews from nearby fire departments were called in to contain the blaze. Now, the sheriff's office and the state fire marshal are working to determine the cause of the fire.
The Wright County Sheriff's Office tells FOX 9 that the home was unoccupied at the time of the fire and no one was hurt. Gardas remains in Wright County Jail on $5 million bail since he was shot by police and later jailed, ending the two-day standoff on June 22.
St. Michael standoff
A criminal complaint alleges that officers were trying to arrest Gardas in June for two outstanding warrants for cases in which police say he used a gun despite being prohibited from doing so because of prior convictions.
Deputies with the Wright Country Sheriff's Office's Emergency Response Team and members of the St. Cloud Police Department SWAT Team surrounded the Gardas home at 4:20 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21 and repeatedly demanded that he surrender but received no response, according to the complaint.
Officers determined Gardas was inside the residence with his 13-year-old son. At 5:48 p.m., they used a ram attached to the front of an armored vehicle to breach the home and deliver chemical agents. Then, 15 minutes later, at 6:03 p.m., the defendant's son escaped the residence and was secured by officers, the complaint says.
At 6:58 p.m., the complaint says Gardas allegedly called dispatch saying he would start firing at officers. "Defendant threatened law enforcement officers by saying the police officers needed to back up or he was going to start shooting. Law enforcement did not back up," the complaint says.
Gardas then allegedly shot at an officer in the turret of a humvee, narrowly missing the officer's head at about 7:05 p.m., according to the complaint. He later also allegedly fired at another armored vehicle.
The standoff lasted until the following night, Wednesday, June 22, when at 7 p.m., deputies raided the home and encountered Gardas in a room, hiding under blankets while holding a rifle.
Police shot Gardas with a less-lethal 40 mm round, but Gardas ran to another room. Shortly afterward, he fired at officers, who returned fire, striking him in the chest, the complaint stated.
Inside the home, police found three AK-47-style rifles, three AR-15 rifles, an M4 rifle, a shotgun, and two handguns. During a previous search of the home, court papers revealed that officers had found what family members called Gardas' "doomsday" room. During that search, they found body armor and ammo inside the room.