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

Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 52 4th Qtr 15:00
California 35
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
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