Man charged with arson, trying to disarm officer as search warrant related to missing woman is served
A man arrested by a St. Paul SWAT team has been formally charged after police say he started a fire inside an apartment, tried to take an officer’s rifle, yelled that he had a gun and that he was going to kill them.
Joseph Steven Jorgenson, 40, is charged with arson, threats of violence and disarming a peace officer, according to a criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County Court.
Police served the warrant as part of a missing person investigation related to a woman, Manijeh Starren, who hasn’t been heard from since April 21.
Police say a St. Paul SWAT team and Maplewood officers served the search warrant at an apartment on North Century Avenue on Monday, June 26 just before 10 a.m.
The complaint states officers saw Jorgenson inside the apartment trying to get out the back window, who then barricaded himself inside a bedroom and refused to come out when officers announced his arrest.
Court documents state Jorgenson then started a fire in the closet of the bedroom and the building’s sprinkler system was activated. This caused the rest of the building to be evacuated.
The complaint states Jorgenson’s roommate, as well as a female who was staying at the apartment, were removed without incident. Initial reports from police said there were two men inside the barricaded room when the fire first started.
Police say they then used a “chemical irritant” to get Jorgenson out of the barricaded bedroom. He then “came charging out of the room yelling that he had a gun and he was going to kill the police officers” according to the complaint.
Court documents state large amounts of dark smoke made it difficult for officers to see and breathe and that three inches of water gathered on the floor from the sprinkler system.
Jorgenson grabbed an officer’s AR-15 rifle, according to the complaint, and then tried to “disarm the officer while he continued to yell that he had a gun” but the officer fought back and kept control of his weapon.
Police then “overcame Jorgenson’s resistance” and arrested him then put out the fire, which had already damaged the apartment.
The complaint states several officers were injured during the arrest. Two of them were treated for minor injuries at Regions Hospital.
Jorgensen has not been charged in relation to Starren’s disappearance, but St. Paul Police confirm to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he is a person of interest in the case.
According to a search warrant filed earlier this month, Starren’s father reported her missing on May 1, stating he had last spoken to her by phone on April 18, telling police she seemed “paranoid and afraid” and that he believed she was afraid of a boyfriend.
Investigators spoke with the manager of the apartment where she lived in the 1400 block of 8th Street East in St. Paul and learned they had surveillance video from April 21 that showed Starren running from her apartment, followed by her boyfriend, Joseph Jorgensen.
The search warrant says Jorgensen can be seen “running after her, grabbing her, turning her around, and pushing her back in the apartment” and that when she went back inside around 4 o’clock that afternoon, “there is no video ever showing her exit the apartment again.”
The search warrant states that there is video of Jorgensen coming and going from the apartment over the next week, a total of 28 times, according to management. He was observed carrying duffle bags, backpacks and a suitcase.
A SWAT team searched the apartment in late May, according to court documents, and found “evidence of large amounts of blood” in the living room and kitchen, noting it was evident that someone had attempted to clean up the blood.
The evidence inside the apartment led police to execute the search warrant at Jorgensen’s apartment Monday.
A spokesperson for St. Paul Police said the department is unable to talk about the specifics of the missing persons case to maintain the integrity of the investigation.