Felonies filed in cornfield chaseBail was set at $100,000 cash Friday for the metro-area man who hid in a cornfield near Argusville Wednesday as authorities spent about 11 hours searching for him after he allegedly threatened to kill himself and his girlfriend.
By: By Dave Roepke and Mike Nowatzki, Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — Bail was set at $100,000 cash Friday for the metro-area man who hid in a cornfield near Argusville Wednesday as authorities spent about 11 hours searching for him after he allegedly threatened to kill himself and his girlfriend.
Dylan Thomas Pederson, 21, was charged Friday in Cass County District court with four felonies, including terrorizing, reckless endangerment, fleeing or attempting to elude police and preventing arrest or discharge of other duties.
Authorities believed Pederson was armed when he fled into the cornfield after an alleged incident in a car with his girlfriend on Interstate 29 in which police say he told the woman he was going to drive the car into the ditch as he sped up to 90 mph on I-29.
“Why don’t we just end it all? I can crash this car and we can die together,” Pederson allegedly recalled telling his girlfriend, one of the reports filed with the charges on Friday claims.
A domestic incident was reported by a driver who stopped along the interstate at 7:40 a.m., after the girlfriend got out of the car. Police allege Pederson then led officers on a high-speed chase to County Road 81 before driving off the road and back across I-29 about a quarter-mile in front of the spot where a trooper had placed spike strips to blow out his tires.
Pederson is accused of then running into the field, prompting a long search that involved two helicopters and an airplane. He was taken into custody shortly after 7 p.m. after he was seen moving by an officer guarding the perimeter of the cornfield.
A North Dakota Highway Patrol report filed with the criminal charges states that when authorities found Pederson he was curled up on the ground with a gun to his head, but eventually let go of it. The weapon turned out to be a black pellet gun that looked like a real gun, the report stated. Pederson told authorities he earlier had shot himself in the stomach three times with the pellet gun, but none of the shots penetrated skin.
Though initially expected to make his first appearance in court from the jail by closed-circuit television Friday morning, Pederson instead appeared via video from the jail in the afternoon, his wrists and torso strapped to a chair.
Capt. Rick Majerus said restraints were used because Pederson was threatening to hurt himself. The 21-year-old told Judge Lisa Fair McEvers on Friday he wants to seek treatment.
“My suicidal depression has been going downhill since I’ve been here,” Pederson said.
In arguing for the bail amount, Assistant Cass County State’s Attorney Cherie Clark said Pederson’s criminal activity “seems to be escalating,” citing among other recent cases a 2011 felony theft charge in Cass County, a variety of drug convictions and a pending misdemeanor for eluding stemming from a Sept. 7 incident.
Clark said Pederson has walked away from mental-health treatment programs in the past and is a serious flight risk. She also referred to the expense of the 11-hour search in making the state’s case for bail.
Majerus said if Pederson is convicted, authorities will seek reimbursement for the cost of the search, which involved 58 people, including the pilots and an ambulance crew on standby. However, he added, “We think it’s going to be very difficult to recoup costs,” which are still being tallied.
Authorities didn’t know the suspect’s weapon was a pellet gun, Majerus said, and for the suspect’s safety and the safety of officers, they chose not to enter the cornfield and instead used the tools and technology at their disposal to conduct the search.
“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” he said.
Pederson’s driver’s license shows a Fargo address, but when he was booked into jail, he listed his address as 3356 70th Ave. N. in Moorhead, Majerus said.
A phone message left for the attorney appointed to represent Pederson wasn’t returned Friday afternoon.
After the Sept. 7 incident for which Pederson stands accused of eluding police, he allegedly posted Facebook messages bragging he had fooled police to think he’d not heard the sirens as they tried to stop him, according to documents filed with charges Friday.
“Got outa running away from cops and got out of a speeding ticket, very niiice haha!” one of the messages reads, according to reports filed in court on Friday.
The felony terrorizing charge Pederson faces, if he is convicted, would carry a mandatory minimum of two years in prison. For all four charges, five years is the maximum prison term.
Mike Nowatzki and Dave Roepke are staff reporters for Forum Communications Co.