Man violently attacks former cult leader Victor Barnard in prison, doesn't regret it

The man who violently assaulted former religious cult leader Victor Barnard in a Minnesota prison cell said he doesn't regret the attack and sleeps well at night despite giving Barnard a punctured lung and traumatic brain injury. 

The Fox 9 Investigators obtained video showing the condition of Barnard after the attack.  Barnard’s assailant, inmate Shane Kringen, agreed to sit down for an exclusive interview at Oak Park Heights Prison. 

“I’m going to say this as clearly as I can. Victor Barnard is a master manipulator of unprecedented scale,” Kringen told the FOX 9 Investigators.

“Victor Barnard had an agenda and he only miscalculated in one area and one area only; when he picked out the person he was going to have a confrontation with, he picked out the wrong person, he picked me,” Kringen said.


Barnard is serving 24 years in prison after being found guilty on 53 counts of sexual assault.

He was the leader of a religious group, the River Road Fellowship, with about 140 followers in rural Pine County, Minnesota.

He surrounded himself with a group of young women and girls, known as the Maidens, taking them on as surrogate wives. 

Barnard sexually abused at least two of the girls, beginning when they were only 14 years old.

The cult operated for more than a decade in relative secrecy, until a Fox 9 Investigation in 2014. 

It led to an international manhunt for Barnard, who was eventually captured in Brazil. 


Barnard and Shane Kringen crossed paths at the medium security correctional facility in Rush City.

Kringen has 12 felony convictions to his name, for drugs, assault and for sex with an underage girl.

According to Kringen, Barnard would stare him down, attracting the attention of other inmates. 

Barnard’s reputation as a cult leader and sex offender had preceded him to Rush City. 

“I do what I do on a daily basis to survive. And Victor Barnard put me in a position to where I had to confront him otherwise my own safety and my own ability to live within the walls of the prison environment were in jeopardy,” Kringen said.

Kringen also said Barnard had taken over religious services inside the prison.

"I think he’s one of the most evil people I've met in my life. He’s evil personified.  He used God as a weapon and continues to use God as a weapon," said Kringen.  "The only reason Victor Barnard is upset as he sits in a prison cell is because he got caught.”


Video from inside the prison details what happened on January 8, 2017. 

Another inmate came up to Kringen and they talked for a few seconds, the other inmate left and took Barnard’s cellmate with him. 

Twelve seconds later, Kringen walked into cell 206 and shut the door. 

He came out, by himself, 40 seconds later. 

Four minutes after that, a guard made the rounds. As she opened the door, she discovered Barnard had been assaulted.  

Security and a medical team were called.

The prisoner was barely conscious, struggled to breathe and was unable to tell staff what happened. 

His injuries included facial fractures, cuts, broken ribs, a punctured lung and a traumatic brain injury. 

"I didn’t go in with the intent to beat him brainless. I went in with the intent to deal with his behavior to stop singling me out.  Other people were looking at me going, ‘hey, Barnard’s looking at you, what’s going on,’” said Kringen.

Kringen claimed Barnard made the first move and even tried to bite off his finger. 

“When he had his hands in his pocket like this and he jumps up like this, in a dark room like that, that’s a sign of aggression." Kringen told Fox 9 during the prison interview.  "You don’t have time to contemplate; you don’t have time to leave.  There’s two, steps, literally the distance like we were just now, is how quick Barnard was in my face," Kringen recalled. "And yes, I reacted. It shows I was in there for seconds, not a long period of time whaling on this guy. This was not my intent. Did he get hurt? Yeah.  Do I regret it?  No, not even remotely.  I sleep good at night.”


The absence of any remorse became obvious as Kringen talked to friends on the outside of prison walls. His calls recorded, as he referred to Barnard as a “Chomo,” prison slang for child molester.

Kringen: “It’s the only one I got pending right now, the fight, for beating up the fu—ing Chomo.”

Friend: "Okay and honestly, I think they should buy you dinner for that one."

Kringen: "Dinner, a girlfriend for the night, steak dinner, Fu—ing something.”

Instead of a steak dinner, Kringen, who was a short timer, was now looking at another decade behind bars.

Kringen was charged with assaulting Barnard but when the case went to trial last August, there was one more surprise; Barnard was a no show.   He was either unable or unwilling to testify. There was no one to refute Kringen's claim that the assault was in self-defense, Kringen was acquitted of all charges.”


For his own protection, Barnard was moved to an undisclosed prison, out of state and he claimed to have no memory of the attack, according to an audio interview by an investigator. 

Investigator: "Do you remember anything that happened that day?"

Barnard:  “I just don’t want to answer questions right now because I just don’t remember anything.”

Nurse: “The last thing you remember was being in Brazil, right?  Do you remember going to prison?" 

Barnard:  “I remember briefly and mostly Brazil." 

Nurse: Ok, so you don't remember coming to U.S. jail?

In fact, Barnard was under the false impression that a prison guard assaulted him. 

Barnard:  "Aren’t you trying to protect him?"

Investigator:   “Why would I protect him?  No, he’s going to be prosecuted for what he did.”

Barnard: "I don't know."

Investigator: "No, he's going to be held accountable for what he did."

Kringen didn't buy it.

“Victor Barnard, it’s my understanding is trying to reduce his sentence by claiming mental illness.  And if was to show up and found competent at a trial for testimony he couldn’t continue to play the manipulation game to save his own hide for his child molesting ways. So that’s why Victor Barnard didn’t want to show up and testify,” Kringen claimed.

He believes the entire assault was a set-up, that Barnard planned it and baited him, so Barnard would be moved to a segregated unit or out of state. 

And despite the sequence of events that day, Kringen claims no other inmates had advance knowledge of the assault. 

Now serving time at Oak Park Heights, a maximum-security prison, Kringen admitted he found fans after the attack. 

“I had $25 sent to me all the way from the Carolinas, a complete stranger.  He said something about doing God’s work,” Kringen told Fox 9.

When asked if other inmates gave him pats on the back for assaulting Barnard, Kringen responded; "There were smiles. We don’t exactly give pats in a maximum security prison," he said.

"Was it a rep builder?  I didn't need a rep builder. I’m not saying am I not cocky, but I am who I am. I don’t lift weights, I lift stacks.”