ROCHESTER — A district judge has ordered the bail of a Pine Island man accused of shooting at law enforcement during an hour-long standoff so he can seek treatment in Texas.
Michael Molitor, 37, faces multiple felony charges in Olmsted County District Court related to the Aug. 20, 2022, incident, including first- and second-degree assault, terrorism threats and commission of a crime while wearing a bulletproof vest.
Molitor is expected to be released this weekend from the custody of his father, Ray Molitor, to go to the Laurel Ridge Treatment Center in San Antonio, Texas. The center’s treatment is a veteran-focused 28-day program and is considered a secure facility similar to a county jail.
“This is a tough case for everyone involved, but we can’t expect our veterans to go to hell and not get help,” said Molitor lawyer Nicole Anlauf Kettwick, d ‘Anoka, Minnesota, to the Post Bulletin. “I think everyone in the courtroom has seen this issue, and I’m relieved he’s getting the help he needs.”
Molitor joined the army when he was 17 and toured Iraq in 2006-2007 as a gunner, according to Kettwick.
“Mr. Molitor explained to me that it would be very, very rare that they would go on a mission and someone wouldn’t get blown up or shot or killed,” Kettwick told the court. on a Friday, September 19. 2, 2022, hearing.
Kettwick went on to tell the court that Molitor’s team had lost people they were escorting and tasked with moving the bodies. At one point, Molitor saw a close friend’s vehicle being hit by an IED and although he survived the crash, the friend did not survive his return to the United States, s having committed suicide earlier this summer.
“Mr. Molitor knows he has to deal with these charges. He wants to deal with the trauma first,” Kettwick told the court on Friday. “He has struggled with substance abuse and PTSD. I’m asking the court to give him the opportunity he deserves to get help.”
During the August clash, Molitor could be seen drinking beer while wearing a body armor with an AR-15 strapped to his upper body. At one point, Molitor told a Goodhue County deputy that he planned to die that day.
Assistant Olmsted County District Attorney Arianna Whitney opposed the release, citing public safety concerns and that Molitor had apparently gone through the treatment program before.
Molitor is accused of having fired between 20 and 22 shots at the police during the confrontation.
If convicted, Molitor’s presumed sentence would be 86 months in prison, Whitney told the court on Friday, prompting state concerns that Molitor may not return to Minnesota to face those charges. charges.
“This treatment is in Texas, which will put him outside the grip of Minnesota and subject other jurisdictions to his unstable and dangerous behavior,” Whitney said in court.
District Judge Joseph Chase ultimately ordered Molitor’s release once transport was secured for a flight to San Antonio, though he instructed the treatment center to notify the court if Molitor refuses treatment.
Molitor’s next court appearance is scheduled for September 15, but a hearing updating the court on Molitor’s treatment is expected shortly thereafter. At this point, the court will hear the treatment center’s recommendations on what it thinks is the best way forward for Molitor.