27 charges filed in Woodbury motel standoff, shootout - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

27 charges filed in Woodbury motel standoff, fatal shootout

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Bail has been set at $1 million for a Stillwater, Minn., man charged with 27 crimes stemming from a standoff with police and SWAT officers at a Woodbury motel last Friday.

Demitrius Ballinger, 25, appeared in Washington County court on Tuesday and was charged with one count of second-degree attempted murder, four counts of first-degree sexual assault, 11 counts of first-degree aggravated robbery and 11 counts of second-degree assault.

At first, Ballinger refused to enter the courtroom. Then, he didn't respond to the judge. Instead, he continually rubbed his head and face while looking agitated, but prosecutors say they are not convinced it isn't an act to substantiate claims of mental illness. So far, no medical records have been provided.

One person was killed in the four-hour standoff at the Red Roof Inn on Wooddale Drive, which started around 1:10 a.m. the morning of Aug. 31.

Woodbury police responded to a 911 call and found a disturbance in one of the motel rooms. Police said 12 people were in the room -- Ballinger and 11 others he was holding at gunpoint. Those people ranged in age from 15 to 19.

According to the charges, Ballinger became frustrated about something while at a party and threatened to shoot everyone, ordering them to "empty out your pockets, give me your money and your cell phones!" The call that brought police to the motel was from a girl in the room who dialed 911 before putting her phone on the floor.

Officers approached Room 217 and saw Ballinger holding the others at gunpoint. At that moment, Ballinger turned and pointed the gun directly at a police officer. As officers pulled back, a 19-year-old man took it as his opportunity to escape.

Ballinger admitted to shooting at the victim, identified as Mark Eric Henderson. Three officers returned gunfire and Henderson suffered multiple gunshot wounds in the exchange after he did not comply with orders to drop.

Henderson was taken to Regions Hospital, where he later died. Police officials later said they believe he had been a hostage trying to escape.

Ballinger also admitted to sexually assaulting four underage girls at gunpoint in the motel room, telling police he knew he was going to jail, so he "might as well get some."

Ballinger's next court appearance is scheduled for the morning of Sept. 10. His public defender told FOX 9 News he has a history of mental illness, including schizophrenia and depression.

Family members told FOX 9 News they believe Ballinger was given a "murderer's bond," saying it was too high. They also said they're standing by him, claiming that the alleged rapes that occurred during negotiations with the SWAT team were "not him."

"That is a lie," said Ballinger's brother. "That doesn't even fit my brother. My brother has problems; everybody has their problems. He didn't rape no [expletive] four girls." 

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