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Son pleads the 5th at father's hearing

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A father accused of repeatedly firing a gun at his son and his friends as well as at police officers heard that son take the fifth amendment rather than answer questions about what happened in his St. Croix Heights, Wis. home on Oct. 17.

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Daniel Christenson, who now lives in Lakeville, appeared at a preliminary hearing in St. Croix County Court in Wisconsin Friday. He is charged with three counts of first degree attempted intentional homicide and four counts of first degree reckless endangerment. He is accused of firing a gun multiple times in his home at 1321 St. Croix Heights while chasing his son Zach. Three of Zach's friends, ages 13, 14, and 15, were also in the home at the same time and hid in a basement closet, fearing for their lives, before escaping.

The three juveniles testified at the hearing, all saying that Christenson appeared to be intoxicated and that they all were afraid they would be shot by him. All said Christenson appeared angry and ordered son and his friends out of the house but Zach told them to stay hidden, apparently unsure if they would get out safely.

After Zach and the juveniles exited the house through a basement window, Dan Christenson held police off for close to nine hours before he allegedly fired on members of the county's Emergency Response Unit. Christenson was seriously wounded by officers when he came out of the front of the house.

Zach Christenson, who was represented by an attorney at the hearing, refused to answer any of Assistant District Attorney Frank Collins' questions, invoking his fifth amendment rights.

Also testifying was Joanne Vondrak, Dan Christenson's mother. She said she received a call from her son around the time the incident began. She said he told her "he couldn't take it anymore and that he was going to kill himself." She said her son was trying to get Zach out of the house because "he couldn't kill himself while Zach was there."

With several more witnesses to call including the law enforcement officers on the scene, the hearing will reconvene on April 16 at 10:30 a.m. Dan Christenson is free on $50,000 bail and continues to recover from the gunshot wounds he sustained in the incident. Zach Christenson is reportedly living with his father at his grandmother's home in Lakeville.

The Hudson-Star Observer is owned by Forum Communications, also the parent company of the Woodbury Bulletin.

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