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Suspect in Woodbury motel shooting charged with attempted murder, rape in 27-count complaint; bail set at $1M

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Suspect in Woodbury motel shooting charged with attempted murder, rape in 27-count complaint; bail set at $1M
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

The 25-year-old man who allegedly held 11 people hostage at gunpoint in a Red Roof Inn motel room Friday made his first court appearance Tuesday where bail was set at $1 million.

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Demetrius Santreell Ballinger, of Stillwater, was charged with 27 felony counts including second-degree attempted murder for allegedly shooting one of the hostages inside the room.

Woodbury police officers opened fire on the man, identified as Mark E. Henderson - who was unarmed - after he burst from the motel room toward them, authorities said last week. Henderson later died at Regions Hospital.

Additional charges against Ballinger include four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for assaulting four minors in room 217 of the Red Roof Inn, according to the criminal complaint.

Assistant Washington County Attorney Siv Yurichuk said Ballinger was a risk to the public and requested he have no contact with the 10 other victims.

"These facts don't get any more severe," she said.

Ballinger appeared hesitant to enter the courtroom Tuesday. He was quiet, refused to speak at the beginning of the hearing until his assigned public defender advised him to answer the judge's questions.

Ballinger's public defender, certified student-attorney Laurel O'Rourke, who will not be handling the case after today, said he suffers from mental health issues including schizophrenia and epilepsy.

According to the criminal complaint:

Ballinger and 11 other people, who were identified by their initials and date of birth, were in room 217 at the Red Roof Inn Friday at 1 a.m.

They ranged in age from 15 to 19 years old, the complaint states, and six of them were juveniles.

"At one in time, the defendant became frustrated about something while all 11 individuals were in the hotel room and pulled out a 9mm semi-automatic handgun," the complaint said.

Ballinger allegedly threatened everyone in the room with the gun and ordered them to empty their pockets.

"The victims in the room stated they were in fear for their lives," according to the complaint.

One of the females dialed 911 and threw her phone on the floor where the other victims had thrown theirs. Woodbury police were then dispatched to the motel.

When police arrived, Ballinger allegedly pointed the gun at them.

"The officers retreated and regrouped as other officers arrived," the complaint said.

Henderson, the 19-year-old man who died in the shooting, took it as a chance to flee and that's when Ballinger allegedly shot at him.

"The defendant later admitted that he fired the gun 'to hit him,' and that he knew that death could be a result," the complaint states.

After Henderson fled the room, Ballinger ordered the females to get into the bathroom and ordered them to take their clothes off.

He allegedly sexually assaulted four of the minors in various ways, while holding the handgun in his hand, and refused to listen when they pleaded for him to stop.

The Washington County SWAT team was called to the scene and negotiated with Ballinger for about four hours.

He eventually agreed to release the victims and when he was interviewed, he admitted to shooting Henderson and holding the 11 victims hostage, according to the complaint.

On Tuesday, five people walked into courtroom 200 at the Washington County Courthouse before Ballinger made his appearance. It was not clear whether they were related to him or if they were family of the victims.

At one point during the hearing, one woman walked out of the room crying. She and others present refused to comment following the hearing.

Ballinger's second-degree attempted murder charge carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison. He was also charged with 11 counts of first-degree aggravated robbery and 11 counts of second-degree assault with dangerous weapon/firearm.

His next court appearance was set for 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 10.

Ballinger's Minnesota criminal history includes several prior convictions, the most recent from Aug. 1 when he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to spend five days a week at the Ramsey County Correctional Facility until February 2013. He pleaded guilty in March 2011 to third-degree property damage in a case where a brawling charge was dismissed.

Ballinger has two domestic assault convictions on his record, the most recent from February 2011. He also pleaded guilty to domestic assault in June 2009.

In addition, Ballinger was convicted in June 2009 of domestic abuse by violating a no-contact order.

The officer-involved shooting part of the incident is a separate investigation that is still under way, Assistant Washington County Attorney Fred Fink said Tuesday.

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Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.
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