By ANDREA VARGO
The sound of metal on metal attracted the attention of off-duty Howard Lake Police Chief Mike Simmons the night of Oct. 18, as he stood by a glass door looking down 8th Ave.
Simmons related his story to the Herald. He noticed what appeared to be an adult male moving past a lower window just west of the entry door to Gerry's Super Valu.
The man was hunched over and wore a black stocking type cap that was pulled down over his face.
Simmons believed a burglary was in progress, and the suspect was fleeing from the scene.
Due to the location of initial observation, Simmons was only able to catch a short glimpse of the suspect as he exited the building through the broken window.
The suspect began running west from the store. He was wearing dark clothing and gloves. He was approximately 5'11" and about 180 pounds.
Simmons said the man was fast and agile. The police chief alerted Wright County dispatch of the crime in progress and the suspects' direction of travel. He then gave foot pursuit.
It was quiet, said Simmons, and he couldn't hear a vehicle engine. Some minutes later, dogs could be heard barking west of the crime scene, possibly due to the suspect fleeing in that direction, he said.
The Wright County Sheriff's Department gave immediate assistance, with Deputy Mitch Fleming responding west of the crime scene about four blocks.
Fleming took up a position directly in the path of the suspect's last known direction of travel.
Sergeant Joe Hagerty and Deputy Greg Findley arrived minutes later and took up a position just north of Deputy Fleming.
A short time later, Deputy Dan Anselment arrived with his k-9 partner and started tracking the suspect near the scene of the break-in.
The dog immediately moved west from the store through the yards between 6th St. and 7th St.
Then the k-9 unit continued west from 9th Ave. along the north side of 7th St. until they were two blocks away from Deputy Fleming's location.
The dog turned through the residential area to the corner of 6th St. and 10th Ave, where he appeared to lose the scent.
Another attempt was made with the same result.
About the same time, a traffic stop was made by Hagerty on 13th Ave. He observed a vehicle exiting a driveway with the headlights turned off.
The driver of the vehicle, Carl R. Leaf, was arrested as a suspect in the break-in, and the investigation continues, said Simmons. Leaf had not been charged as of Thursday.
The investigation has revealed an unknown suspect(s) used a hard object to smash the window in Gerry's Super Valu, entered, and used a large crowbar to pry open the front panel of the ATM machine.
No entry to the safe inside wasmade. The suspect
left the crowbar and a small bag of tools behind, when he fled