Authorities in northern Minnesota will spend the weekend trying to piece together the sequence of events of a bizarre crime in which a man allegedly broke into a gas station, threatened to shoot responding police and was later found dead inside the burned out building.
What authorities know is that Colton Tammi, 26, died in the incident that played out Wednesday night at the Y Knot gas station and convenience store in Pelland, about 8 miles west of International Falls. What they don’t know is how Tammi died, why he was inside the gas station, which was closed at the time, or how the building started on fire.
“A lot of people have questions,” said Koochiching County Sheriff Perryn Hedlund. “We have as many questions as anybody else. We hope to piece it together over the weekend.”
Things started when dispatchers got a call about a break-in at the popular gas station at the intersection of Hwys. 11 and 71 around 11:30 p.m. Dispatchers contacted the suspect later identified as Tammi by phone. Tammi threatened to shoot any officers who responded, Hedlund said.
Officers surrounded the building and tried to talk Tammi into walking out of the store. He refused. At some point a fire broke out and engulfed the station. Part of the roof collapsed and left the station heavily damaged.
Firefighters and police with the assisting agencies, International Falls Police and Fire department and the U.S. Border Patrol, were hampered by safety concerns, Hedlund said. It was not immediately known if Tammi might have a gun,
When the fire was out, authorities found Tammi dead inside, Hedlund said.
Hedlund said Tammi, a local resident, was known to police, but declined to specify why.
Hedlund said law enforcement will spend the weekend tracking down leads, reviewing call logs and trying to determine what sparked the fire and how Tammi died. An autopsy is pending.
“We will be spending the weekend trying to piece things together,” Hedlund said.