A man was shot to death after a confrontation early Wednesday at a small North Shore town’s popular resort, where a holiday party for employees was being held, authorities said.
A 61-year-old man from nearby Finland, Minn., who works at the resort, was quickly arrested in a guest room of the Bluefin Bay resort in Tofte, Minn., and jailed on suspicion of second-degree murder, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. He has been a Bluefin employee for seven years, said resort owner Dennis Rysdahl.
The victim was a 35-year-old man who worked for a casino gambling rental service, which was hired for the Christmas party, according to Sheriff Pat Eliasen.
The suspect has been identified by resort employees, but the Star Tribune does not typically name suspects until they’ve been charged.
The victim’s name has yet to be released.
Shortly after midnight, as the party was coming to an end, several people stepped outside from a Christmas celebration at the resort’s Bluefin Grille, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. Soon after, the suspect “came into physical contact” with a man, then shot him with a handgun, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The gunman “became uncooperative and suffered minor injuries” while being apprehended, the statement said. He was treated at a hospital before being incarcerated. The suspect’s jail mug shot shows him with several facial injuries.
Eliasen said the gunman had a government-issued permit to carry a firearm.
Authorities have not revealed any more about what motivated the shooting. The suspect, who delivered firewood to guest rooms, was well-liked among the staff, Rysdahl said, and “has never been known to say an angry word or get into conflict with anyone.”
In a statement Wednesday evening, Rysdahl said that the annual holiday party is a long-standing tradition at the resort, where precautions are taken to make sure no one drinks and drives. Party guests must relinquish their car keys before being admitted to the event in exchange for a key to a complimentary room. Car keys are returned only after breakfast the following morning — a policy that has prevented incidents in the past, he said.
“We have never had a shooting or any violent crime in Tofte in my 32 years here at Bluefin Bay. We love our small, safe community and it is so hard for us to understand how this could happen,” Rysdahl said. “I want to assure our many loyal guests that they can feel safe as they continue to enjoy their time at Bluefin Bay. This tragedy will only redouble our efforts to provide you with the best experiences we possibly can.”
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting.