A man scaled a fence at North Memorial Health Hospital in December and shut off oxygen to the entire hospital, causing a situation that could have been deadly under different circumstances, according to court documents.
A search warrant affidavit filed Friday in Hennepin County District Court did not mention any injuries or harm connected to the Dec. 27 incident. No charges have been filed.
“It was noted by hospital [engineers] that had the incident occurred at a time when the hospital did not have 4 engineers on that the act could have resulted in serious harm or death to patients,” the affidavit said.
Officials for the hospital in Robbinsdale could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.
The incident was tied to a man suspected of tampering with Xcel Energy meters 250 times.
According to the affidavit: Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies responding to the scene recovered surveillance video showing someone in a coat crossing a road and approaching a fenced area near the oxygen tanks.
The suspect climbed the fence, broke metal clasps and zip ties and shut off the oxygen.
Hospital engineers detected a pressure drop in the hospital’s oxygen levels and discovered the vandalism.
The same suspect was seen “at other times” inside the hospital the previous month unplugging computers and televisions.
Police were able to identify a possible suspect — a 39-year-old man. The Star Tribune generally does not name suspects who have not been charged.
The affidavit did not specify a possible motive for his actions but sought to obtain any medical records for the suspect at the hospital or its clinics in order to compare surveillance video from that time with the December footage.
Court records show that the suspect has a Robbinsdale address and was sentenced in September to 90 days in the Stearns County jail on one count of fourth-degree damage to property.
Charges filed against the suspect last year in that case show that surveillance video captured him ripping out a gas meter wire at an undisclosed location in late 2018.
An Xcel Energy representative told police on Nov. 7, 2018, that “there have been several spikes in service in the number of calls for service for commercial gas line accounts,” according to the charges.
A motive was not specified in that case.