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Ely locals terrorize campers in BWCAW

Six Ely residents brandishing guns threatened canoeists and campers on Basswood Lake late in the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 7. Two were arrested at the Fall Lake boat landing early on Wednesday morning for making terroristic threats, and all six will face charges in Lake County.

The five adult males and one juvenile male were in two motorboats reportedly shooting off fire arms and using abusive language.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office, the Ely Police Department and the U.S. Forest Service responded to cell phone calls from campers hiding in the woods. The officers intercepted the perpetrators as they were leaving the Boundary Waters.

Barney James Lakner, 37, and Jay Andrew Olson, 19, were arrested and later released pending charges. Johnson said that as they were locals and not a flight risk they were released, pending charges. The remaining three adults and one juvenile also will be charged by summons and complaint procedures.

On Tuesday, Aug. 21, Lake County Sheriff Carey Johnson said the case was still under investigation. Statements were gathered by the deputies from a number of witnesses, some of whom were on extended trips in the BWCAW. Johnson said Lake County Attorney Russ Conrow was examining the statements to determine which charges are appropriate. No date had been set, but Conrow will likely file charges this week, said Johnson.

It is legal to have guns in the Boundary Waters, but Johnson said it is illegal to use them in a dangerous manner--there or anywhere.

According to Minnesota State Statute 609.713, a terroristic threat means communicating either directly or indirectly a threat to commit a crime of violence with intent to terrorize another. It is punishable with up to a five-year prison term and/or a fine of up to $10,000.