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Drunken shootout gets St. Paul Park man 10 years

  • Article by: KEVIN GILES
  • Star Tribune
  • November 2, 2012 - 8:43 PM

Moments before he was ordered to prison Friday, Nathan Kluessendorf turned to prosecutors and law enforcement officers to apologize for a drunken shootout in St. Paul Park on a steamy summer night.

"It was a rough day for me," said the 23-year-old former volunteer firefighter, standing handcuffed in Washington County District Court in Stillwater. "Things are going to get better for me. Again, I would like to apologize to everyone."

Judge Mary Hannon sentenced Kluessendorf to 10 years in prison on three counts of using deadly force against law enforcement officers. He must serve at least six and a half years behind bars before he is eligible for probation.

"You ended up in a very reasonable place, first of all, not being killed in that shootout with law enforcement officers," said Hannon, who advised Kluessendorf to rebuild his life. "You're young enough to teach yourself new things."

Kluessendorf's assault on police officers and Washington County Sheriff's Office deputies began with an alcohol-soaked suicide attempt to get mowed down by a train.

That quickly escalated into a shootout, as Kluessendorf fired a rifle and a shotgun repeatedly at about a dozen officers.

The confrontation ended early on Aug. 2, 2011, when a SWAT sniper's bullet tore a hole through his hip and abdomen, knocking him to the floor of his house. He since has undergone several surgeries.

Kluessendorf's attorney, Ryan Pacyga, told Hannon before the sentencing that his client had been abusing alcohol and wanted to die that night.

"Over time he gained a lot of insight into this," Pacyga said. "His attitude is no longer, 'Why me?' but 'Lucky me, I'm not dead.'"

County Attorney Pete Orput, who prosecuted the case, said the incident was a tragedy for all involved.

Kluessendorf pleaded guilty on Aug. 30 to amended charges of three felony counts of use of deadly force against a peace officer. Orput dropped three other counts of first-degree attempted murder.

Hannon gave Kluessendorf credit for 458 days served in the Washington County jail. He will serve sentences on the three counts concurrently.

Kevin Giles • 651-925-5037 Twitter: @stribgiles

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