All 3 Arrested in Weapons Seizure in Vadnais Heights Have Been Charged

June 28, 2018 02:13 PM

UPDATE: Charges against Christopher Stowe have been dropped.


Charges have been filed against Christopher Lloyd Stowe, the man in whose home the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office seized what law enforcement officials call a cache of guns, ammunition and possible explosive devices on Friday.

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Stowe has been charged with two felony counts of unlawful possession of a machine gun/short-barreled gun and one count of negligent storage of a firearm in the presence of a child, a gross misdemeanor.

He made his first court appearance Monday and left the Ramsey County Jail soon after, shielding his face from cameras.

Stowe's wife, Lisa, and their 13-year-old son were also arrested following the search of their home on the 4200 block of Desoto Street in Vadnais Heights Friday.

Lisa Stowe has been charged with negligent storage of firearms and is currently out on bail, KSTP confirmed.

A release from the Sheriff's office Monday said the 13-year-old has been charged with threats of violence. His first appearance in Ramsey County Juvenile Court was also held Monday afternoon.

RELATED: Families Give Differing Accounts of Vadnais Heights Weapons Seizure

"These are very good people," said Samuel Surface, an attorney for Christopher Stowe. "We're talking about a hard working family. They have never had any criminal issues that I'm aware of."

The raid Friday was prompted by Jessica Pigg, whose child is a classmate of the 13-year-old at the Academy for Sciences and Agriculture. Pigg said the student threatened to shoot up the school, as well as her son.

Pigg said her son texted her about the threats Wednesday and asked if he could stay home from school. She said she called the school to discuss the issue. Pigg claims an administrator downplayed the issue and referred to it as a conversation that got out of hand.

The criminal complaint against Christopher Stowe states Ramsey County deputies first responded to a report of the threats on March 1. A complaining witness reportedly said the 13-year-old had "told a classmate that he was going to kill him and that he had a list of students he was going to kill."

The complaint alleges a deputy responded to the school, where officials reportedly told him the 13-year-old had been suspended for the threats. The release states the deputy heard that when the 13-year-old was being removed from class that day, he was alleged to have said, "Hide in the closet when I come back, because I will start shooting then."

RELATED: Guns, Ammunition, Other Items Seized at Home of Student in Vadnais Heights, Sheriff Says

However, the complaint said, when speaking with the 13-year-old at his residence that day, the boy said he did not mean the threats and would never do it again. The release claims the deputy also spoke with Lisa Stowe who is alleged to have said the child "did not have access to weapons and that there were no weapons in the home."

The next day, the complaint goes on to state, law enforcement officials executed a search warrant, having arrived at the residence when the 13-year-old was home alone.

Both Christopher and Lisa Stowe were reported to have been on their way home. When Christopher Stowe arrived, he reportedly told an investigator the guns were his. But, the complaint claims, he declined further questioning without a lawyer present.

The complaint alleges the search turned up a "significant number of firearms, ammunition and firearms parts. Law enforcement officials also located two possible explosive devices."

It also alleges law enforcement recovered several trigger kits hidden in the ceiling of the residence, which the complaint claims appeared "to be conversion kits for converting weapons to automatic weapons." Deputies also reportedly recovered literature on how to convert a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one.

The complaint alleges law enforcement officials observed several of the firearms were loaded and located out in the open, accessible to children.

According to the criminal complaint against Lisa Stowe filed Monday, multiple pistols inside a dresser drawer in the master bedroom, all with magazines reportedly fully loaded with bullets. And a pistol was allegedly found inside a book on a master bedroom nightstand, fully loaded with magazines containing 9 millimeter bullets.

ATF agents reportedly determined one of the guns met the legal definition of a machine gun and another met the legal definition for a short-barreled shotgun under Minnesota statutes.

Mark Stowe, the 13-year-old's grandfather, confirmed to KSTP over the weekend that the family has many guns and said they are part of a collection. He said most of them are unloaded and are kept in safes.

However, when the sheriff's office arrived Friday, they claimed some guns could be easily accessed by the teen.

"There was something that had the potential look of a repeat in Florida, which needed to be investigated and I think panic set in," Christopher Stowe's father, Mark, told KSTP over the weekend. "I believe the Sheriff did a knee-jerk reaction. Instead of calling the principal, he did this. I think he screwed up and screwed up real bad."

"My initial thoughts are this is not a case that's about 2nd Amendment," said Surface. "This is a case that's about the 4th Amendment. Right to privacy, and search and seizure rulings."

Both Christopher and Lisa Stowe are next expected in court April 12.

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