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Man shooting at squirrels puts Farmington schools on lockdown

Police blocked streets in some areas of downtown Farmington on Monday, Sept. 19. At around 9:35 a.m., the Farmington Police posted that the incident had been cleared. (Forum News Service photo)

FARMINGTON, Minn. — A man shooting at squirrels with a pellet gun on his property caused confusion Monday morning in Farmington as authorities requested some of the city's schools to go into lockdown after a gunfire report.

"The initial call was that there was a man outside with a rifle shooting off rounds," said Sgt. Bob Sauter of the Farmington Police Department.

Authorities treated the report with an active shooter response.

The caller was ambiguous on the exact location, guessing the 400 block of Oak Street, and the department, having had some previous responses in that area, weren't taking any chances, Sauter said.

Police informed four Farmington schools about the initial report. All four schools went into modified lockdown for about 20 minutes. Officers on the scene were telling residents to go inside, as they set up a perimeter around the two possible locations.

Once police located the man in question, they learned the truth and did not arrest him.

The man, described by police as "an older man in his sixties," alarmed neighbors on the 300 block of Walnut Street when, fed up with the squirrels on his property, he took out his pellet gun and started shooting.

After that, he packed up his fishing gear and left.

"He felt pretty bad about it," Sauter said. "There was no intent."

Farmington Elementary School was the closest school to the incident. They were notified by police during their drop off time, about 8:55 a.m., Principal Kim Bollesen said.

Children who had been bused in were all inside, but students being dropped off by parents were still outside the building.

Farmington is on the south side of the Twin Cities metro area.