Man who terrorized families in BWCA in 2007 nabbed again after dramatic snowmobile chase

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 22, 2014 - 3:42 PM
hide

Barney Lakner

As the midwinter sun set across Moose Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, two conservation officers spotted illegal snowmobile tracks in the fresh snow.

When they caught up with the two sleds, the chase was on. With lights flashing and speeds reaching 80 miles per hour, the officers pursued Barney Lakner and Edward Zupancich for more than a mile, zooming near areas of thin ice and open water.

Finally, one of the officers launched himself from his moving sled and knocked Zupancich off his machine. The other officer cut Lakner’s snowmobile off with his own. The two were then arrested.

The dramatic Jan. 11 chase was the latest run-in between authorities and Lakner, an Ely resident with a history of law breaking in the BWCA that includes a 2007 rampage so severe it got him banned from the wilderness for five years.

He and five other young men terrorized a vacationing family, demanding that the campers get off “their land,” firing off an assault rifle in their campsite and threatening to rape and kill them.

Lakner pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison. He also was banned from the BWCA for five years.

“We perceive he has an issue with the guiding legislation covering the BWCA — no question about it,” said Capt. Thomas Provost, northeast enforcement manager for the Department of Natural Resources.

Catching Lakner, 44, and Zupancich, 26, in the act of driving snowmobiles in the BWCA was a rarity, Provost said. The DNR gets far more complaints about such violations than it can substantiate, he said.

The men face a half-dozen charges, including fleeing a police officer, littering, possession of beverage cans, possession of mechanical equipment in the BWCA, operating a snowmobile in an unsafe manner and failure to display registration.
 

Lakner, of Ely, Minn., and Zupancich, of Babbitt, Minn., couldn’t be reached for comment. They’ll next appear in court Feb. 3.

It’s the fourth time in 10 years that Lakner has been cited or charged with a serious crime or illegal entry into the BWCA on a motorized vehicle.

Emmerich Koller, whose family was tormented by Lakner in 2007, said Tuesday he wasn’t surprised by the latest incident. Although Lakner’s latest alleged crime doesn’t come close to the nightmare he caused Koller and his son and daughter, “it shows this guy has problems with the rules,” Koller said Tuesday.

“In court, I felt a little bad when he got three years in prison, because he had a family,” said Koller, now 71 and a retired schoolteacher living in suburban Chicago. “I was sure prison would fix the problem.”

A night of terror

According to the 2007 charges, Lakner, then 37, and five much younger men ranging in age from 16 to 20 were firing guns and drinking on a lake near Koller’s campsite. They had a run-in with Koller, then left.

Later that night, they returned.

Koller took his frightened family and headed for the woods. As they held onto one another, they were forced to listen to the yelling men describe, in extremely graphic terms, how they were going kill Koller and rape his entire family.

When their tormentors left, Koller called 911. In the meantime, Lakner and his friends harassed several more campers.

  • related content

  • Zupancich

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
UAB 58 FINAL
North Carolina 89
IUPUI 55 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
UNLV 79
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
SMU 45 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 96
UCF 64 FINAL
Houston 50
BYU 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close