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Published November 15, 2013, 01:46 PM

Suspect killed in Minnesota home invasion involved in 2009 Grand Forks crime spree

Pine City, MN - A suspect shot to death in an alleged home invasion Thursday in northeast Minnesota is believed to be the same person who was convicted in 2009 of a series of Grand Forks robberies in which at least one store clerk was threatened with a golf club.

By: Forum News Service, INFORUM, Forum News Service

Pine City, MN - A suspect shot to death in an alleged home invasion Thursday in northeast Minnesota is believed to be the same person who was convicted in 2009 of a series of Grand Forks robberies in which at least one store clerk was threatened with a golf club.

The Pine County Sheriff’s Department identified the man as 23-year-old Gypsy Watts, 23, Pine City, Minn.

Watts was 19 in 2009 when he was sentenced in Grand Forks to four years in jail for a series of convenience store robberies.

In Thursday’s Pine County incident, deputies were called to a residence west of Sandstone, Minn., at 2:38 a.m. on a report of a shooting.

A man described by police as elderly told deputies that two men entered his home in a robbery attempt. The man said at least one of the men had a gun. He said he was able to find his own gun and shot and killed one of the intruders.

The other man fled on foot, and a search ensued with the assistance of a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter.

Pine County authorities said three people were arrested Thursday afternoon and that no other suspects were being sought. Authorities also confiscated a van they believe was involved in the incident.

Sandstone is about 25 miles north of Pine City, and about 65 miles southeast of Duluth.

The incident remains under investigation with the help of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Grand Forks robberies

Watts originally was accused in Grand Forks of robbing two Cenex stores (one of them twice) and the Big Cigs store in April and May of 2009. Police said Watts and another man used golf clubs to rob the two Cenex stores in late April 2009.

Watts had been charged with four counts of robbery and one count of terrorizing, which stems from an allegation that he threatened a Big Cigs clerk with a knife, saying he was going to kill her.

Watts, who listed his address at the time as Pine City, Minn., pleaded guilty to three counts of robbery, and in exchange, the terrorizing charge and one robbery count were dropped. The plea agreement called for Watts to serve 10 years in prison with six years suspended and six years of supervised probation.

Suspects ‘known’

Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole talked about the incident Thursday during his weekly morning radio show on WCMP-AM in Pine City. He described the shooting a “very, very dangerous and tragic set of events.”

He said the gunshot victim “is known to the sheriff’s office.”

He later said all three men in custody also have had past contact with deputies, according to a report in the Duluth News Tribune.

Cole said the homeowner is “OK,” as was a guest at the home at the time of the incident. Their names were released immediately released.

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