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Man attacks BHS staff member in locker room: Woman escapes with minor injuries, suspect in custody

Brainerd police were called Monday morning to the Brainerd High School after a staff member was attacked in the girls' locker room. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch file photo

A 20-year-old Brainerd man was arrested Monday, Feb. 11, after allegedly attacking a Brainerd High School staff member in a girls' locker room.

The Brainerd Police Department was dispatched about 6:48 a.m. to investigate the attack.

In a news release, Brainerd Police Chief Corky McQuiston stated the suspect approached a 36-year-old woman from behind and attempted to grab and restrain her in the girls' locker room in the lower level of the north campus at BHS by the gymnasium. The woman was able to break free from the attacker and the suspect fled from the school.

The woman suffered minor physical injuries, McQuiston stated.

A witness at the school believed the attacker, who wore dark clothing, was a local man and identified him to police. About 15 minutes after the incident was reported, the suspect was located a short distance from the school on South Fifth Street, where he was taken into custody without incident.

The Brainerd man was transported to the Crow Wing County Jail, where he is awaiting possible formal charges, as the Crow Wing County Attorney's Office reviews the matter. According to the Crow Wing County Jail custody list, the Brainerd man was booked on four felonies—intentional false imprisonment, kidnapping, fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and attempted anticipatory crimes.

Police believe the suspect removed items of clothing while fleeing from the scene and authorities continue to search for black gloves and a dark-colored bandana or face mask, McQuiston stated.

"We take this matter very seriously," Brainerd Superintendent Laine Larson said. "We are so very thankful she is OK, so proud of her for being so strong and for all the people who were witnesses who helped us get to the bottom of it right away."

Larson sent out a districtwide Skylert message to all families about the incident at 2:20 p.m.

"The investigation by local law enforcement continues," Larson stated in the email alert. "We believe this to be an isolated incident; however, the district is currently investigating how this occurred and how we can prevent this from happening in the future. For the safety of students and staff, until further notice, please be advised that the locker rooms will be locked until a staff member is available to supervise. No one should be in a locker room or fitness center alone. This applies to all Brainerd Public School facilities."

Larson said typically the doors are unlocked at 5:30 a.m., when the building and grounds staff arrive at the high school. Most mornings there are sport teams practicing in the building, as there were on Monday. The doors are typically on lockdown after the first bell rings about 8:20 a.m. Then people have to enter through the main entrance to get in the building.

"This has never happened before," Larson said of the incident. "Police were called and after reviewing our surveillance, (the suspect was) apprehended pretty quickly. Some of the security pieces here helped us find him quickly. ... We had a meeting on how to prevent this from happening again."

Larson believes the suspect was at one time a student at BHS.

Police will continue to investigate and are asking anyone with information to call the Brainerd Police Department at 218-829-2805.

The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office assisted Brainerd police with this incident.