UPDATE: Moorhead police chase suspect on golf course before West Acres mall arrest; Fargo says it didn't join chase (w/ chase video)
FARGO, ND - Police in Fargo did not join the chase for a 33-year-old Bismarck man Tuesday night because it didn’t meet the requirements for a pursuit, the department’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
When the pursuit entered North Dakota, Fargo police learned of it from Moorhead police and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the agency in charge, Lt. Joel Vettel said.
But the supervising officer for Fargo police at the time decided not to have the department take part in the chase because the other agencies had not provided a sufficient reason to do so.
“Under our policy, the parameters of that event did not match the parameters for our officers to engage in the pursuit,” Vettel said, adding that the department backs the supervisor’s decision not to join in the chase.
However, Fargo officers did go to West Acres to help with the arrest of Feist. “We acted as perimeter officers, tried to secure the scene, slow the situation down,” the lieutenant said.
Vettel said plainclothes BCI agents pursued Feist into the mall, a tactic that has raised concerns in the Fargo Police Department.
“Certainly, anytime you have individuals that are not in uniform, and they’re plainclothes individuals entering a crowded facility such as West Acres, that has the potential to cause some pretty extreme panic within the facility,” he said.
On Wednesday, Fargo police were discussing the pursuit with BCI officials, specifically the reason for it and whether it could have been handled better, Vettel said, noting that many of the police department’s questions had not yet been answered.
Police in Moorhead are reviewing the pursuit to see if it met that department’s chase policies, as well, police Lt. Tory Jacobson said Wednesday.
Moorhead police Sgt. Scott Kostohryz said Tuesday night that officers did not pursue Feist when he drove onto Village Green Golf Course.
“We obviously have to weigh the need to apprehend the fugitive … versus the safety of the public,” Kostohryz said.
A video taken by a bystander, however, shows Moorhead police vehicles chasing Feist on the course.
Jacobson said Wednesday morning that the police department was reviewing squad car video of the chase and officers’ reports to determine whether proper protocol was followed. He said such a review is a routine procedure after a chase.
Jacobson said Kostohryz may not have had all the information regarding the chase on Tuesday night.
Shortly before 2 p.m., the lieutenant said in a news release that as a result of a preliminary review, the department will conduct an internal affairs investigation of the pursuit.
Jacobson said the department will also re-evaluate its pursuit policy.
Moorhead police began the pursuit after being notified by North Dakota BCI agents that Feist was in Moorhead, Jacobson said.
Feist drove away from the Industrial Park before police arrived. He fled when they tried to pull him over on Main Avenue Southeast, eventually driving onto the Village Green Golf Course.
Kostohryz said Tuesday that Moorhead police also stopped the chase when Feist later drove through a construction zone on Interstate 94 at 25th Street South in Fargo. At that point, Kostohryz said, BCI agents took over the chase. He said at the time that Fargo police also joined in the pursuit.
Feist eventually parked and entered the West Acres mall, which was locked down for a brief time while police arrested him.
It was the first time the mall had been locked down for an actual emergency, said mall director of marketing Alyssa Adams.
Police arrested Feist and booked him in Cass County Jail for his outstanding felony warrants, which include drug-related charges. He also faces felony charges for fleeing police and criminal damage to property.
Kostohryz said police also detained a passenger in Feist’s car but released him because he had no warrants out for his arrest.