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Fargo business owner accused of making threatening gun gesture toward city commissioner

FARGO - Cass County prosecutors are considering potential disorderly conduct charges against a local business owner accused of making a threatening gun gesture after a city planning meeting last week.

The May 26 meeting included a discussion about the city's LED sign ordinance, of which business owner Steven Stremick has taken issue with in the past.

After the meeting concluded, Stremick was speaking with one of the city planners and made a threatening reference to City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn and made a gun gesture, Piepkorn said.

"I don't want to get into it, but it was very serious," Piepkorn said Monday. "It wasn't appropriate, and it was very scary to me."

Piepkorn called police to report the incident, which led to the investigation.

"It was a gesture that could have been possibly determined as a gun," Sgt. Mark Lykken said.

Police have sent investigative reports related to the incident to the Cass County state's attorney's office to avoid any conflict of interest with the Fargo city attorney's office because the incident occurred during a city meeting, Lykken said. The recommended disorderly conduct charge is a Class B misdemeanor carrying up to 30 days in jail.

The city will take preventive measures in the future regarding Stremick due to the incident, including possibly having police officers present at meetings, Piepkorn said. An officer was present at the City Commission meeting on Monday.

"That scared the crap out of me," Piepkorn said of the incident.

At the meeting Monday, Stremick directed questions to his attorney, Jonathan Garaas. Though he said the city sign policy unfairly singles out his client, Garaas had no comment on the gun gesture incident.

Stremick wants to erect a cube-shaped LED sign for his business, Select Financial Services Ltd., on the corner of University Drive and 13th Avenue South.

That desire led to a dispute with the Hawthorne Neighborhood Association and led Fargo to enact a three-month moratorium on light-emitting diode signs going up on the premises of companies. City commissioners Monday night deadlocked on measures to relax the moratorium.

Charges have not been filed against Stremick as of Monday, according to the state's attorney's office.