Baltic man denied bond after 4-hour standoff
March 17. 2014 3:18PM
A Baltic man wanted on drug and grand theft charges sped away from authorities before sparking a lengthy standoff with law enforcement last week.
The Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office arrested wanted fugitive Tahlen Bourassa, 20, the evening of Wednesday, March 12 after a four-hour standoff in Dell Rapids.
It all started when officers with the fugitive task force and the U.S. Marshal’s spotted Bourassa, wanted for two felony warrants, driving an Eagle Talon around 1 p.m. in the Dell Rapids and Baltic area. Bourassa fled at a high rate of speed on a gravel road. The officers lost sight of him north of Dell Rapids near the Moody County line.
“(Those officers) didn’t pursue because they didn’t have a marked vehicle,” said Mike Milstead, Minnehaha County Sheriff.
Road conditions also played a factor in ending the pursuit.
“The gravel roads around this time are wet, and you just don’t know what’s going to happen during a pursuit. They are just so unpredictable,” said Minnehaha Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Jason Gearman.
Authorities continued to search for Bourassa through the afternoon when the sheriff’s office received a tip around 5 p.m. that he was hiding in a building in south Dell Rapids on Quarry Road where he was known to frequent.
With the assumption that he was armed, dangerous and on drugs, officers with their guns drawn formed a perimeter around the building and unsuccessfully tried to make contact with Bourassa.
“Normally, in cases like this, with these types of felony warrants, it doesn’t rise to a level of high violence where we would be sending out all these people looking for him. But due to the information we had about the shotgun and his behavior, we decided this would be appropriate,” Gearman said.
After more than an hour without a response from the suspect, Milstead said his officers used a Bearcat, the S.W.A.T. team’s armored vehicle, to get closer to the building.
“They moved forward with the Bearcat at one point and the garage door opened. He was in the building,” Milstead said.
At that point, Bourassa ran back to his vehicle and began talks with negotiators.
According to police scanner traffic, early in his discussions with law enforcement Bourassa threatened to fire on officers if they approached. He also threatened to take his own life.
“Our negotiators had reason to believe that he was threatening his own life and that he wasn’t going to be taken alive,” Milstead said.
Eventually his parents arrived on scene and helped convince him to surrender around 9:10 p.m.
Bourassa was in possession of a knife, an 18-inch wooden rod with several screws protruding from one end and a shotgun shell, said Sgt. Mike Walsh with the sheriff’s office. Authorities were still searching for the shotgun last week.
Bourassa was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation that same evening before he was taken to the Minnehaha County Jail.
The South Dakota Highway Patrol and U.S. Marshals provided tactical assistance for the sheriff's office and the S.W.A.T. team, including the use of the State Troopers’ aircraft. Dell Rapids Fire, Dell Rapids Ambulance and Minnehaha County Emergency Management also assisted.
Bourassa had warrants for grand theft and ingesting intoxicants. He faces charges of reckless driving, obstruction and an unauthorized plate transaction. He has convictions for marijuana and property damage. Bourassa is being held without bond.
Reporter Mark Walker contributed to this story