U of M: ‘All clear’ after shooting threat at Twin Cities campus, suspect arrested

Shooting threat received by U of M Twin Cities campus; students, non-essential staff asked to stay clear of area

The University of Minnesota says the campus’ public safety department has received a threat to shoot people at the Twin Cities campus, causing them to issue a Safe-U emergency.

Authorities say a man is in custody after he allegedly threatened to shoot people at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus on Thursday.

The campus’ public safety department issued its first alert at 7:21 a.m. on Thursday, which said the threat was “specific” and was made by 41-year-old Joseph Mark Rongstad.

While the campus was still open after the threat, the public safety department had asked students and non-essential staff to stay clear of the area. Just after 1 p.m., the department gave the “all clear,” saying Rongstad was contained in Chippewa County and the campus could resume normal operations.

He has since been booked into Chippewa County Jail on probable cause felony threats of violence. Criminal charges are expected to be filed in the coming days.

The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Reporter Kelsey Christensen on Thursday morning that Rongstad was believed to be at his home, which is located within the county.

Video captured by Chopper 5 showed law enforcement, including SWAT, there and the department said it was adding resources and hadn’t been able to get ahold of Rongstad earlier in the day.

Chopper 5 flies above a reported standoff in Chippewa County on Jan. 11, 2024.

Chippewa County authorities say the threat was made on social media, and Rongstad “started making lengthy posts” on Wednesday morning, but those posts turned threatening early on Thursday. One of the posts said he was headed to the U of M to “start killing kids” and went on to say, “it’s going to get bloody.”

Authorities added that Rongstad is well known to law enforcement and has a criminal record.

The sheriff’s office said just before 4:30 p.m. that he had been taken into custody without incident. However, authorities remained at the scene as part of the investigation.

Court records show multiple convictions against Rongstad, including felony burglary, as well as theft and DWI.

“There was a text saying that campus was still going to be open and everything, which I don’t really understand why if there’s a credible threat, they would keep it open,” Madison Urn, a student at the U of M, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

“Not too concerned anymore than I am in general that I go to a school in the United States, so kind of comes with the territory,” said Joshua Braverman, a staff member.

According to the alert, there are extra officers on campus with partner agencies, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will be investigating the threat, as well as the suspect’s home sheriff agency.

In addition, the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office says a soft lockdown is in place at Montevideo public schools out of caution, stressing there is no threat to school. Authorities add all doors are locked with staff at the doors in those schools, and law enforcement is also staged at the school.

“We are deeply grateful to the many law enforcement partners who contributed to today’s investigation and continue to work this case, starting with the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office, which alerted us to this threat and is leading ongoing efforts to apprehend the suspect,” a spokesperson for the university said. “We also appreciate the support of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, State Patrol, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department, Minneapolis PD and Metro Transit Police. As always, we also owe heartfelt thanks to our UMPD and Department of Public Safety personnel, who quickly shifted plans this morning to support the needed efforts to monitor and secure our campus.”