Hopkins MN - A bounty hunter is accused of chasing a Hopkins man with a baton after he mistook the man for his target, according to court documents released Friday.
Police found 43-year-old Charles Ray Damrow, of Farmington, with a black collapsible baton on his belt, pink chain handcuffs and a pocketknife, Sgt. Michael Glassberg wrote in the charging documents.
Damrow came to officers’ attention at 5:40 a.m. June 29 when police rushed to a garage in the 12th Avenue North alley, near the Hopkins Library, in response to a report of an assault in progress.
Officers arrived to find Damrow walking away from an unoccupied SUV, with the baton on his belt. They ordered him at gunpoint to put his hands in the air and lay on the ground, then seized the baton and pocketknife.
There was also an unidentified husband and wife at the scene. Police noted the woman was crying hysterically and her hands were shaking, according to the charging documents. The man said he and his wife were rearranging their vehicles to leave for work when they saw a vehicle stop in the library parking lot.
Damrow then got out of the vehicle and began running across the alley at them “with some type of stick above his head” that they thought was a tire iron, the man told police. He got into his vehicle and began backing up—planning to hit Damrow if he continued forward.
The man said Damrow was yelling, “Jamie!” and telling him to get out of the vehicle.
Meanwhile, the wife had fled the garage, according to the court documents. She initially pounded on a neighbor’s door, but there was no answer. She then went to another neighbor, who called 911.
“I thought the guy was going crazy, and he was going to smash the window and kill my husband,” the court documents quoted the woman.
After officers detained him, Damrow told them he is a bounty hunter looking for a fugitive wanted for providing false information to police, a gross misdemeanor. He said he learned through an Internet search that the fugitive might be living at the victim’s house.
Damrow—who said he had training in “Pressure Point Control Technique,” use of a Taser and advanced tactical firearms procedures—then conducted surveillance of the home the evening of June 28 and the early morning of June 29. He thought the victim fit the fugitive’s description. Although the hair color was different, he reasoned that the fugitive could’ve changed his hair color.
Damrow admitted running after the victim and said he extended the baton when the man got into the vehicle. But he added that when he went to the driver’s side window, he noticed the victim had a different name embroidered on his shirt. The victim threatened to call police, and Damrow went back to his vehicle to get paperwork, which is when police arrived, he said.
“When asked why he did not call the police first if he was doing surveillance and taking enforcement action, he claimed the situation happened quickly and noted that if the police arrest the fugitive he does not get paid. He acknowledged that makes him take more risks,” the complaint states.
Police initially had trouble verifying Damrow was working as a bounty hunter, according to the charging documents. He said he worked for “Dave’s Bail Bonds,” which they later determined was a man named “Dave” at Ace Bail Bonds.
Dave, whose last name wasn’t provided, confirmed that Damrow was trying to locate two “bail jumpers”—including one named Jamison “Jamie” McElhaney whose charges matched what Damrow told police.
Officers released Damrow pending charges. He’s been charged with second-degree assault, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years and a $4,200 to $14,000 fine.