- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A felony terrorizing charge filed against a suspect in a Grand Forks home standoff is an overreaction to the fatal shooting of a police officer in Fargo less than two days before, the suspect’s attorney says.

Grand Forks police maintain that officers followed normal procedures and the case has not been influenced in any way by the Fargo incident. The prosecutor in the case says the information she currently has available justifies the charge.

Zackery Crandall, 28, of Gilby, allegedly holed up in the Grand Forks home of his girlfriend for about two hours on Feb. 12, threatening to shoot himself, his girlfriend and his mother, before surrendering peacefully to police and a SWAT team. Authorities say in court documents that Crandall was armed with a handgun, but defense attorney Henry H. Howe said Crandall had a BB gun.

“I think this has gotten blown out of proportion, partly because it became conflated with the shooting of Officer Moszer in Fargo,” Howe said Thursday. “I think this is a reaction to that.”

Fargo Officer Jason Moszer, 33, died Feb. 11 of a gunshot wound he suffered the night before during a standoff with a suspect at a house near downtown Fargo that also began as a domestic dispute. The suspect in that case was found dead in the home, either from a police bullet or a self-inflicted wound. Moszer was the first Fargo police officer to die in the line of duty in more than a century.

Howe said that had it not been for the Fargo incident, the Grand Forks incident “might have been handled very differently.” Crandall never threatened anyone other than himself, Howe said, and has since posted bond, returned to work and reconciled with his girlfriend, with whom he has two children.

“A terrorizing charge seems to be a little over the top,” Howe said.

Grand Forks Police Lt. Derik Zimmel said the department has protocols for responding to such incidents and that “the Fargo incident had nothing at all to do with this.”

“Investigations are based on the facts and circumstances involved in that particular incident,” he said. “We’re not going to take anything else into account except what’s in front of us.”

Police can recommend a specific charge - as they did in this case - but the decision ultimately is up to the prosecutor. Assistant State’s Attorney Haley Wamstad, who is prosecuting Crandall, said Friday that the information she currently has justifies a terrorizing charge.

“I don’t have any reason to believe it’s an overreaction,” she said. “What I find somewhat ironic about (Howe’s) comments, is we don’t have the full reports and investigations from law enforcement yet, and as a result, Mr. Howe doesn’t, either.”

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Follow Blake Nicholson on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/NicholsonBlake


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