Armed lawmaker stopped by police in Highland Park

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 23, 2010 - 9:09 PM

Thomas Hackbarth, R-Cedar, has a permit to carry a concealed weapon. He said it was happenstance he was parked in the Planned Parenthood lot in Highland Park.

A state representative said it was a misunderstanding when he parked his car in the Planned Parenthood lot in Highland Park and was later stopped by St. Paul police because of the revolver he was carrying near his waistband.

Thomas Hackbarth, 58, was stopped in his car on Nov. 16 after a security guard saw him with a gun in the parking lot about 5 p.m., an hour after the clinic closed. Police ordered him out of his car at gunpoint and handcuffed and questioned him before taking his gun and letting him go.

Hackbarth, who has a conceal and carry permit, picked up his gun from police on Tuesday. He was not arrested or charged, and police have closed the case, said police spokesman Andy Skoogman.

Hackbarth, R-Cedar, is in his eighth term representing District 48A. He represents Elk River, Oak Grove and East Bethel and is considered a strong advocate of conservation issues and an opponent of abortion rights.

He said Tuesday that he is not familiar with the Highland Park area and didn't know he was at Planned Parenthood when he pulled into the empty lot so that he could look for a woman he had met online.

Hackbarth said he had coffee with the woman on Nov. 15, and asked her to dinner the next night but she told him she couldn't because of a commitment she had with a female friend in Highland Park. Hackbarth said he felt that she might have been seeing a man instead, so he parked his car and walked around the block looking for her car. (The security guard spotted Hackbarth's gun when he got out of his car and put on a winter coat.)

When he didn't see the woman's car, he returned to his truck and left. That's when police intercepted him.

"I was not a jealous boyfriend," said Hackbarth, who is in the process of divorcing his wife of 25 years. "I was just trying to check up on her. It's totally a misunderstanding."

Hackbarth said that he always carries his fully loaded gun, and understands why the security guard was alarmed.

"I didn't even know it was Planned Parenthood," he said. "I fully understand why they were upset."

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708

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