AP NEWS

Man charged with shutting off oxygen to Minnesota hospital

February 6, 2020 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota man is charged with shutting off oxygen to a Minneapolis area hospital in December , an act that authorities say could have hurt or killed many people.

Hennepin County prosecutors on Wednesday charged Larry Raduenz Jr., 39, of Robbinsdale with first-degree damage to property, a felony. Raduenz was arrested at a homeless shelter in St. Paul and appeared in court Thursday, where he requested a public defender. Bail was set at $20,000, and Raduenz remained in jail pending his next court appearance March 5.

“It is shocking that an individual would take a step like this to endanger the lives and well-being of innocent and hospitalized people,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement. Freeman said his office is still investigating “and we will pursue other charges if evidence supports us doing so.”

Raduenz is accused of shutting off oxygen to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale on Dec. 27. According to the complaint, Raduenz climbed a fence near the oxygen tanks, broke cable ties and metal clasps and shut off the oxygen. Engineers detected the pressure drop and discovered the vandalism.

An engineer said they were happy to find the problem fast.

“If it would have taken much longer, the oxygen would have depleted and could have caused injury or death to multiple patients,” the complaint said.

A hospital spokeswoman has said no patients were harmed.

According to the complaint, video surveillance showed Raduenz walking into the hospital atrium, approaching a television that had video of his face and unplugging it.

When investigators questioned Raduenz, he said he was angry with the hospital and had frequented the premises.

Raduenz also is suspected in Stearns County , in central Minnesota, of tampering with Xcel Energy meters 250 times, the Star Tribune reported.