The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 24, 2013

Documents, recollections differ in fatal North Mankato standoff

By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer

NORTH MANKATO — A search warrant affidavit written by a North Mankato police detective, initial police reports, and additional information from witnesses provide conflicting information about what led to the police shooting death of 83-year-old Lloyd Tschohl.

Police were called to Tschohl’s house at 1610 Lor Ray Drive around 10 a.m. Jan. 17 for what was described as a welfare check. When he refused to come outside, the regional River Valley Tactical Response Team was called because officers were concerned about weapons they knew Tschohl had in the house. They also were concerned about public safety because Tschohl’s house is close to the busy intersection of Lee Boulevard and Lor Ray Drive.

After spending hours attempting to get Tschohl to surrender, members of the response team approached the house from both sides at about 2 p.m. Tschohl fired shots from inside the house at that time, then was shot and killed a short time later when he came out of the house firing two handguns, according to law enforcement news releases about the incident.

The incident is under investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Those investigators haven’t released their findings about the standoff.

But Tschohl’s 50-year-old adopted daughter, who initially called 911 because she was concerned about him, said her memory about what led up to the standoff is different from the information in the affidavit used to justify a search of Tschohl’s home after he was killed. Audrey Lynn Telthoester-Tschohl lives in an apartment on the second floor of Tschohl’s house.

Telthoester-Tschohl said her only 911 call about Tschohl’s situation was made Jan. 16, the evening before the standoff. She said she explained then that Tschohl was saying things that made her concerned he was a harm to himself and others. Tschohl had told her he believed there were people outside his home who were trying to get him and he wanted to shoot them.

The affidavit for the search warrant, which was written by North Mankato police detective Jeremy Swenson after the shooting, said officers Chris Hendrickson and Dan Forster were sent to Tschohl’s house just before 7 p.m. Jan. 16. Swenson said Telthoester-Tschohl had reported her father was refusing to go to the doctor.

When the officers got to the house, Tschohl opened a door, then closed it again before they could talk to him. Once Telthoester-Tschohl got there, Tschohl turned on an outside light but wouldn’t come out or talk to the officers.

“Audrey then stated that Lloyd had not made any threats about harming himself or anyone else, so officer Hendrickson advised Audrey to call again if she needed help,” the affidavit said.

Telthoester-Tschohl said she never told the officers her father wasn’t a threat to himself. She assumed the officers had been briefed about what she had told the 911 dispatcher, which she said was very detailed.

“I think there was just a lapse in communication between those officers and dispatchers,” she said. “I told the dispatcher he needs to get to the emergency room because he’s confused and aggravated.”

Nicollet County 911 call records show that dispatch received a call from Tschohl’s address at 6:43 p.m. Jan. 16. The call lasted three minutes before the officers were dispatched and the officers arrived at the house at about 7 p.m. They cleared the scene at 7:51 p.m., the records showed.

Transcripts from that 911 call show that Telthoester-Tschohl told the 911 dispatcher that she was concerned about her father’s safety. Large portions of what she said have been blocked out by the Nicollet County attorney in the transcript provided to The Free Press.

One section does make reference to “senior symptoms,” has about two lines blocked out, then quotes Telthoester-Tschohl as saying:

“We’ve been dealing with this and getting things figured out. We wanted to get in there because this morning, check on him, ’cause this morning he made a comment about, ya know, about hurting himself or others, so I was just concerned and now he won’t let us in.

“We have, and we have, we have a scheduled visit with him for 6:30, my daughter and I, and he won’t let us in. I’m concerned for his safety and, ya know.”

Telthoester-Tschohl also said she wanted an ambulance sent in case “he does have something down there.” It’s not clear what she is talking about because five lines from that portion of the call are blocked out.

She explained that she lived in an apartment on the second floor of Tschohl’s house. The dispatcher said a police officer would either call her or contact her at the house.

The affidavit for the search warrant appears to contain conflicting information. Even though it said Telthoester-Tschohl said her father wasn’t a threat to himself at the end of the description of Wednesday’s incident, it suggests earlier that she had told them he was a threat to himself.

“Audrey also stated that when she approached Lloyd about going to the doctor he told her that he would jump off a bridge before going to a doctor for help,” it said.

North Mankato Police Chief Chris Boyer said that, due to the BCA investigation, he could not comment about who made the calls nor about when they were made. He did say that he was working closely with the task force after it was called in.

The news releases from authorities said that police were contacted by a family member again Thursday morning.

But the affidavit said officers had received a call from a nurse at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato Thursday morning. The nurse said she had just received a call from Telthoester-Tschohl, who said she was concerned about her father because he was homicidal.

Telthoester-Tschohl said neither one of those descriptions is completely accurate. She said she didn’t call 911 or the nurse Thursday and is assuming the nurse was referring to a call she made to the hospital Wednesday. The nurse called her Thursday morning, told her a doctor had put in an order to bring Tschohl to the hospital for evaluation and that hospital staff would be working with police to get Tschohl to the emergency room, she said.

“She told me to stay at my daughter’s house,” Telthoester-Tschohl said. “She said ‘We’re all going to work together to get him in safely to get help.’”

There are two special emergency rooms and 11 inpatient beds at the hospital to care for people in a mental health crisis, said Dr. Umesh Vyas, medical director for the hospital’s behavioral health unit. Patients can be brought to the emergency room by law enforcement officers, family or on their own.

There also is a crisis hotline. Callers are screened by a nurse who decides if the patient should be referred to a doctor at the unit, their own psychologist or therapist or, in extreme cases, brought to the emergency room, Vyas said. Staff will work closely with law enforcement in those cases to makes sure someone is brought in safely, he said.

Hospital staff can not discuss specific situations, so they could not confirm whether the hospital was involved in Tschohl’s case.

Standoff details vary

The incident that sparked the shooting also is described differently in the affidavit than in the news releases. Those releases said officers were first shot at when they “approached the house to get a better view inside.” The search warrant affidavit said two teams of officers approached from two sides of the house and broke in.

“The team on the west side cut the gas off and breached a large picture window, and the team on the east side breached the entry door,” the affidavit said. “While both teams breached the door and window, Lloyd shot what sounded like one round out towards the front of the residence towards one team and another round out towards the east door by the other team at (2:06 p.m.).”

The two teams backed off immediately. About 10 minutes later Tschohl came out of the house shooting two handguns, the affidavit said. He was immediately shot by at least three officers and fell to the ground.

North Mankato Police Department records show they were at Tschohl’s house Jan. 16 and Jan. 17. Prior to that, they had contact with him once in February 2009 when he reported finding property and once in November 2008 when he was questioned about a weapons violation.

A person who was driving by the house the morning of Nov. 26, 2008, reported hearing gunshots at Tschohl’s house. When Tschohl was questioned by an officer sent to the house, he said he had just returned home and hadn’t heard any gunfire. The officer noted seeing “several older long guns on a rack in the kitchen.”

A friend of Tschohl’s, Jo Tschohl, said she talked to him Jan. 15, the day before Telthoester-Tschohl and police officers went to his house the first time. Jo Tschohl said her late husband, Jim Tschohl, was Lloyd Tschohl’s cousin and they have known each other for decades. Up until December, when Telthoester-Tschohl sent Jo Tschohl a certified letter telling her to stay away from Lloyd, Jo Tschohl would visit him regularly for conversations, walks and trips to Taco John’s.

Jo Tschohl described Lloyd Tschohl as a lonely man who had done well with land sales and apartment investments. He leaned conservative but would let anyone put a political sign on his property if they stopped to talk to him for awhile. She’s not sure why Lloyd Tschohl adopted Telthoester-Tschohl when she was already in her 30s.

Audrey Telthoester-Tschohl wouldn’t comment on that, either, only saying she was adopted 15 years ago. Court adoption records are closed to the public, but court staff in both Blue Earth and Nicollet counties said it is possible to adopt someone when they are an adult.

When Lloyd Tschohl called Jo Tschohl Jan. 15, he said he was in a lot of trouble because the had gotten into a fight with Telthoester-Tschohl and told her to leave, Jo Tschohl said. She said Lloyd Tschohl sounded mad, but not like he was having a mental crisis.

Jo Tschohl said she believes Lloyd Tschohl thought police were at his house to arrest him for threatening Telthoester-Tschohl.