Police: Hermantown golf coach bought booze to comfort team after loss to DL
Hermantown High School assistant golf coach Kyle Gordon Ernst was formally charged Friday with supplying alcohol to minors.
Ernst was arrested at 3 a.m. Thursday after a Shakopee, Minn., police officer deemed he had been drinking with members of the girls and boys golf teams at a hotel. Police obtained camera footage of Ernst buying more than two cases of beer and a 12-pack of hard lemonade Thursday evening at a convenience store. Ernst was booked into the Scott County Jail and released later Thursday morning.
The teams had been golfing in the Minnesota State Golf Meet in nearby Jordan and police said one of the players reported that Ernst got the beer to provide solace to the boys team, which finished second by one stroke.
Charges were filed Friday morning in Scott County District Court in Shakopee. Ernst, 26, a Hermantown High School alum, is facing one count of gross misdemeanor furnishing alcohol to someone younger than 21.
Reached at home Thursday night, Ernst told the News Tribune he had no comment on the incident.
The News Tribune left e-mail and cell phone messages with Hermantown school Superintendent Brad Johnson, head golf coach Cliff Ashby and activities director Beth Clark seeking comment on the incident. None were returned.
According to the criminal complaint filed by the attorney's office:
Just before 3 a.m. Thursday, a Shakopee police officer saw a male and three females near a lottery ticket vending machine at Cub Foods. A store employee asked for the male's age. The employee said the male was older than 18 and eligible to buy lottery tickets but smelled of alcohol.
The officer tried to confront the foursome but was distracted by another employee telling him that another male from the group was in the store. The officer determined that the male had been drinking and he admitted to it despite being underage. The boy told the officer he was staying at a nearby hotel with the Hermantown golf teams as part of the state meet.
The officer gave the boy a ride back to the hotel, which was across the street from the store. The boy led him to his room and the officer recognized one of the males inside as the person he observed near the lottery machine at the store.
The second male was given a breath test that confirmed he had consumed alcohol. Two other males in the room had not been drinking, the report states.
The officer asked for the team chaperone and knocked on a hotel door and got no answer. The officer then went to another room being used by three members of the girls' team. Ernst answered the door, police said, and came into the hallway and quickly shut the door.
The officer told Ernst that he had confirmed that two boys on the golf team had been drinking. The officer said Ernst seemed nervous and was visibly shaking. The officer asked what was going on and Ernst eventually said the team was upset about losing in the golf meet and he purchased alcohol for them to lighten their mood.
Police later looked at surveillance footage from the convenience store where Ernst bought $62 worth of beer and hard lemonade. The report says Ernst bought 54 containers of beer, 12 hard lemonades and one 40-ounce beer. The footage showed two of the boys' golf team members in the store.
Two officers were on the scene, one escorting Ernst to his room and the other checking other team member rooms.
The two males and one girl were cited for underage consumption, police said Thursday night.
A breath test was performed on Ernst and the meter read 0.064 percent. The limit on blood-alcohol concentration to drive is 0.08 percent.
Ernst was placed under arrest.
The report makes mention of going to the coach's room to find another chaperone but it isn't clear if it was head coach Cliff Ashby that Ernst was referring to. Ernst had told the police he purchased two 12-packs and the lemonade with a plan to share them with team members and the other coach.
Police said Ernst admitted to being in a room with underage team members drinking. He was arrested shortly after police arrived at the hotel.
Police said Thursday night that they wrote tickets for underage alcohol consumption in connection with the incident. Those cited include an 18-year-old Duluth man, a 16-year-old boy from Duluth and a 17-year-old Hermantown girl.
Ernst does not teach in Hermantown but is also an assistant speech coach. He is an assistant golf pro at the city of Duluth's Lester Park Golf Course.
Craig Perry, associate director at the Minnesota State High School League, said any league infractions would need to be reported by the school in order to be acted on at the state level. It isn't clear whether the citations would spur any action by the High School League.