Charges filed, $1M bail set for apprehended party in Watson, Minnesota, standoff

Jan. 18—OLIVIA

— Bail was set at $1 million for the Watson man who surrendered to law enforcement after a standoff with a SWAT team outside of his home on Jan. 11.


Chippewa County

Attorney's office filed a felony charge of ineligible possession of ammunition and two felony charges of threats of violence against Joseph Mark Rongstad, 41, on Jan. 18.

District Judge Laurence Stratton set bail after a brief hearing Thursday in district court in Renville County.

Rongstad remains in custody in the Chippewa County Jail.

Rongstad became the focus of state-wide attention after

allegedly posting threats against students at the University of Minnesota at the Twin Cities campus

on Jan. 11. According to the complaint, Rongstad allegedly began making threatening posts on his company's Facebook page at 12:38 a.m. on Jan. 11.

Law enforcement had begun searching for him one day earlier. Social media posts he made on Jan. 10 suggested that he was possibly having a mental health crisis.

The criminal complaint alleges that after his arrest, Rongstad told an investigator who spoke with him at the Chippewa County Jail that he did not have a gun, nor did he have any plans to travel to the University of Minnesota campus as stated in the social media posts.

The complaint alleges that he told the investigator that he wanted to get the attention of the Secret Service and "the Klein family." He referred to the family as being involved with the National Security Agency; although he did not know anyone in the family, he told the investigator.

Early in the interview, the complaint stated that Rongstad "talked about how back when he was the Mayor of Watson, he started catching onto government stuff, such as mind reading, MK Ultra-mind control, and shadow government."

Rongstad has prior criminal convictions for erratic behavior, including for

driving a tractor into the town's Lutheran church,

firing a rifle though the sunroof of a vehicle "to stop corpses," and burglarizing the former mayor's home as he and his family slept.

A search of Rongstad's home in Watson following his arrest led to the seizure of these items:

* Letters written on paper (as seen in the Facebook posts);

* A black case with unidentified pills;

* Handmade envelope with writing;

* Several boxes and rounds of (shotgun) ammunition.

The social media posts by Rongstad that are cited in the complaint also include references to the district judges in Chippewa and Yellow Medicine counties, as well as law enforcement officers.