Sebeka chief: Weapons in fort story 'just wrong'Sebeka Police Chief Eric Swenson said Thursday he’s been in the national spotlight for several days, but the underlying story was nothing more than a misunderstanding.
By: Steve Schulz, Wadena Pioneer Journal
Sebeka Police Chief Eric Swenson said Thursday he’s been in the national spotlight for several days, but the underlying story was nothing more than a misunderstanding.
Swenson said he’s been contacted by all the networks, Fox News, and many other media outlets, all asking about a story that’s gone viral about him misplacing weapons and finding them in his son’s backyard fort. He said when he tries to explain it didn’t happen that way and asks to give his side of what happened, media have ignored that and stuck with the sensational story. He said he’s furious no one wants to know the truth.
Swenson said he’s been in the process of moving to a new home and renovating and painting it. While he was moving his belongings, he said he noticed his night-vision goggles were missing. As he looked for them, he also couldn’t find a police radio and some stun grenades.
“It’s dangerous stuff,” Swenson told the Pioneer Journal. “In the interest of public safety, I reported it.”
Swenson said he lives across the border in Otter Tail County so he had to call the sheriff’s office to report that he suspected the items might have been stolen. And he said reports of firearms gone missing aren’t right — there were never firearms involved.
Over the weekend, Swenson said he searched high and low for the items, thinking they had been stuck somewhere safe during the move to his new house. He eventually found the stun grenades in his attic. Those night-vision goggles were found under Swenson’s 9-year-old boy’s bed — the child had been playing with them and stashed them away.
“But he knows not to touch [dangerous weapons],” Swenson said of his son.
After he had found everything, Swenson said he called the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office back on Monday to let them know the items had turned up safely in the home. Swenson said he remarked to the deputy that he had searched everywhere — including the kids’ fort in the back yard — before finding the items in the attic and the goggles under the bed.
Swenson said he only referred to the kids’ fort to illustrate he had searched everywhere before finding the items. He said none of the items had ever left the home and nothing was found in the fort.
But media reports, quoting from sheriff’s department logs, said the items were all found in the fort.
Swenson said he’s angry about the media portrayal of the events, and even angrier that when he explains what happens, no one wants to report that.
“I did the right thing by reporting it,” he said. “And now I’m getting crucified for it.”
Swenson said all of the media attention is not what he needs or what the city of Sebeka needs.
“My little town doesn’t need this,” he said.
He said seeing the story go viral and countless people comment on it on websites has been a nightmare.
“This is blown out of proportion so bad,” he said. “I’m being slammed left and right.”
He said he thought if there was even a possibility the items were taken in a burglary, he’d better report it. But he said the resulting reporting on the incident has left him angry and distressed.
The Pioneer Journal and the Echo Press are Forum Communications Company newspapers.