Bailey Jordan Garcia first told police that he was shooting at deer and a wolf early Saturday morning when he crashed his SUV not far from the rural Washington County spot where David Frigaard was fatally shot.
He then changed his story to say he sped away from an intersection near the bar that Frigaard owned in Willernie because he had heard a gunshot and it scared him.
Finally, according to a murder charge filed Monday in Washington County District Court, the 19-year-old Century College student allegedly confessed to authorities that he fired a high-powered rifle at a pickup truck driven by Frigaard after it had stopped at the intersection.
Frigaard, who had just closed his bar, died about 3:30 a.m. Saturday when a single round fired from a 30.06 rifle allegedly found in Garcia’s SUV penetrated his lungs.
Garcia, who had argued with his father and brother hours earlier and said he had contemplated suicide, didn’t tell authorities why he shot at Frigaard or even acknowledge that he knew who was driving the pickup truck, according to a criminal complaint.
Garcia crashed his SUV after allegedly firing the shot, the complaint said, because “he got scared because he did not know if he hit the driver.”
While the second-degree murder charge doesn’t establish a motive for the shooting, County Attorney Pete Orput said investigators are working to determine whether it was more than a random occurrence.
“We need to dig real deep here to see if there’s any connection” between the men, he said. “It’s troubling.”
Fire department trainee
Investigators are trying to figure out if the men knew each other from Park High, where Frigaard was a popular teacher and worked with at-risk youths, or whether they knew each other from the bar, Orput said.
Garcia graduated from Mahtomedi High School last spring. He lives in Pine Springs, a city of 400 residents just south of Mahtomedi and Willernie.
In November, Garcia began training at the Mahtomedi Fire Department as a firefighter and was scheduled to begin EMT training soon, said Fire Chief Terry Fischer.
“He was a good kid, doing the best he could,” Fischer said of Garcia. “He was excited to be on the department. He had just begun his journey. He was jumping in with both feet.”
Several of Garcia’s relatives declined to comment Monday or did not return phone calls. Garcia’s attorneys, Ryan Pacyga and Anthony Bussa, said in a statement Monday evening that they want to explore Garcia’s mental health to “determine if he is competent to participate in legal proceedings and assist us in his defense.”
They said Garcia has battled severe depression and that his family is grieving and searching for answers. They also offer their prayers to the Frigaard family.
According to the criminal complaint:
Garcia was inside his vehicle near the intersection of Stillwater Road and Mahtomedi Avenue about 3:30 a.m. Saturday when he saw Frigaard’s truck pull up to a stop sign.
He then aimed the 30.06 rifle at the pickup and fired a shot from the driver’s window before fleeing.
Garcia told a deputy at the spot where he crashed the SUV that he had consumed three beers and some wine.
He was taken to Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater for minor injuries and later to the Washington County jail, where he remained Monday in lieu of $2 million bail.
Deputies found a spent shell casing in Garcia’s vehicle, as well as a rifle with a scope and a box of ammunition.
They also found a bottle of rum that was nearly empty, the complaint said.
Earlier, witnesses who arrived at the scene where Garcia crashed the SUV told deputies that Garcia was “acting strange.” Soon afterward, Frigaard’s vehicle was found, its motor still running, against a tree near Wildwood Beach Road and Mahtomedi Avenue.
Frigaard was slumped over the steering wheel.
Garcia told deputies that he got into an argument with his father and brother earlier in the evening and had considered suicide, according to the complaint.
The complaint said he took the rifle and ammunition from a closet at his home in Pine Springs and then drove to the Mahtomedi Fire Department, where he used a cutting tool to remove the trigger lock.
Garcia also admitted to covering his license plates with paper towels.
Staff writer Nicole Norfleet contributed to this report.