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Standoff suspect escapes mental health facility, leads police on high speed chase

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News Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501
Detroit Lakes Online
Standoff suspect escapes mental health facility, leads police on high speed chase
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

A man involved in a standoff at a Detroit Lakes motel last month led police on a 100-mile high speed chase this afternoon and was finally apprehended in Thief River Falls.


According to law enforcement officials, David Buethner, 37, a mental health patient held at a Fergus Falls facility, hijacked a state van while being transported to a different facility in Anoka County and headed eastbound on I-94.

The Todd County Sheriff's Office released an attempt to locate Buethner, which got all regional law enforcement agencies involved in the pursuit.

Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon said Buethner was spotted on Highway 34 in Detroit Lakes then heading north on Highway 59.

Buethner, who has ties in Fargo, N.D., and Cass County, was traveling at almost 100 mph through Ogema, Callaway and Mahnomen, Gordon said.

Mahnomen County Sheriff Doug Krier said deputies set up a pair of stop sticks on the north and south sides of Waubun in an effort to barricade the suspect, but he fled right past them.

Buethner called the Mahnomen County Dispatch saying he wasn't planning to stop and that police should give up.

"At some point in there he called our dispatch and said he was the one in the van and that he's got a full tank of gas," Krier said, adding that Buethner said, "he's heading north on 59 and to tell the guys in blue to back off I'm not stopping," Krier said.

Buethner evaded all stop sticks put up by White Earth Tribal Police and Mahnomen County, Gordon said.

The Border Patrol also initiated a helicopter for aerial surveillance, Gordon added.

The Minnesota State Patrol stopped the van in Thief River Falls and arrested Buethner who's now being held in the Pennington County Jail pending charges to be determined following an investigation.

"Right now it's going to take a substantial amount of sorting by various county attorneys," Gordon said.

State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said Buethner tried to make a U-turn in front of one of the squad cars which allowed authorities to bring the van to a halt, the Star Tribune reported.

Buethner was committed to the Department of Human Services' (DHS) Community Behavioral Health Hospital in Fergus Falls following a standoff at the Pine to Palm Motel on Sept. 24.

It's unclear why he was being transported to a different facility, but the Todd County Sheriff's Office reported he used some intimidation against the driver of the van.

The driver pulled off the interstate onto a township road and was left behind as Buethner took off, Todd County Sheriff Peter Mikkelson said.