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Alexandria woman seeking massage ends up in middle of police search for gunman

Michelle Unger

ALEXANDRIA -- What was supposed to be a relaxing time getting a massage turned into a harrowing ordeal with a suspected gunman on the loose.

Michelle Unger of Alexandria has been staying at Gillette's Children Hospital in the Twin Cities with her daughter, Katey, who sustained head injuries after a horse accident. She took a break from the hospital last Thursday to get a massage from her sister.

Unger's sister, Jennifer Frey, is a massage therapist who shares space with a chiropractor, Elizabeth Berg, in an office complex near County Road B and Fairview Avenue in Roseville.

Last Thursday, the office complex was locked down shortly after Unger arrived for her massage because a man, who reportedly was carrying a sawed-off shotgun, was holding a woman hostage.

Unger explained in a phone interview Monday afternoon that she got to the office complex at about 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

When she arrived, the streets in front of the building were blocked off, which at the time, she assumed was because of a car accident.

After a phone call to her sister asking how she was supposed to get in, Unger made her way to the other side of the building and went in through the back.

She arrived at her sister's office, which is located on the first floor, and after a few minutes, the massage began. Unger was finally relaxing - something she hasn't done much of since her daughter's accident, which occurred on November 8.

About half way through the massage, however, Unger and her sister were notified that the building was being locked down and they, along with the chiropractor, were told to get away from any windows and lock the door until they were given further notice.

She also said there were police officers located right outside the window of that particular office building with their guns drawn.

On a Caring Bridge website for her daughter, Unger wrote, "Myself, my sister and the chiropractor were locked in a little room trying not to freak out." She added, "The whole time I'm thinking, 'Are you kidding me? All I wanted was a relaxing massage!' "

Unger explained that the three women had a laptop computer with them in the room and started checking local news sources to see if they could find out any information. She said they found one site that had live coverage of what was happening just outside the office building.

Unger said she called her husband, Joe, and explained what was going on and then because she didn't want her daughter to worry where she was, Unger called Katey in her room at the hospital and said she was going to be a little late getting back.

Because she didn't want her daughter to panic, Unger told her she was stuck in traffic.

"I also called the nurse's station and told them about what was really going on," she said, laughing, because she thought as she was telling them the story, "There's no way they're going to believe this."

After a couple of hours sitting in the small room with no windows, the women were given the "all clear" and were allowed to leave.

They were told that the suspect had been apprehended and the situation was resolved.

As it turned out, Unger didn't finish getting her much-needed massage. She immediately left and went back to the hospital to be with her daughter.

Despite the initial panic over the situation, after about the first hour, Unger said the women calmed down and didn't feel like they were in any real danger.

However, when she posted on her daughter's Caring Bridge website after returning to the hospital, she said, "I don't think I'll be leaving the hospital for the rest of the duration."