RED WING, Minn. — A Red Wing family said a group of people went up to their house, opened the unlocked front door and shouted profanity — scaring an 18-year-old woman home alone at the time — after wrongfully suspecting someone inside was responsible for damaging a neighbor’s landscaping.
Authorities later identified a suspect in the property damage, and the person was not associated with the household, according to a police report.
The May 23 incident on Hallstrom Drive was captured on home surveillance cameras, including footage of a woman briefly entering the residence through the basement door.
A 35-year-old Farmington, Minnesota, woman was cited for trespassing and a 41-year-old Farmington man was cited for trespassing and disorderly conduct, but the family said the misdemeanor charges do not reflect the seriousness of the crime.
“That’s a home invasion,” said Areia Grafton, 28, who lives in the residence with several minor family members and the 18-year-old, who is a roommate and family friend. “If people have to hide for their life, that’s it right there.”
Grafton also criticized the police for not identifying others captured on video that night and choosing to mail citations to the suspects, suggesting her Hispanic brothers would have been arrested if the circumstances were reversed.
The incident occurred after 8 p.m. The young woman inside the home was watching a show in a bedroom near the front door. Afraid she was being robbed, the woman locked the door and hid in a closet, Grafton said.
Watch the video of the front door being opened below. (Warning: clip contains strong language)
Grafton said the incident is the latest in a history of harassing behavior directed at them in the neighborhood, adding she believes it is because of the size and diversity of her family.
She said they don’t feel safe in the community.
“During the day we shouldn’t have to lock our doors in Red Wing, Minnesota,” Grafton said.
The family said they wish to thank people who have reached out with support, especially the Red Wing Non-Violent Protest group on Facebook.
Videos of the incident created a stir on social media, prompting a news release Friday from Red Wing police. Authorities said they are seeking additional information that could lead to more serious charges.
The evidence points to trespassing and not burglary, according to the news release. Burglary requires the perpetrator to enter a dwelling without permission and either commit or intend to commit a crime while inside.
“Without evidence that a crime was committed or that the suspects intended to commit a crime inside the home, the only appropriate charge for entering a residence without the consent of the owner is the misdemeanor offense of trespass,” Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman said in the news release. “We understand that some people don’t feel this is a serious enough charge but, based on the evidence to date, it’s the appropriate charge.”
Pohlman encouraged anyone with information about the case or if they feel their rights were violated to file a formal complaint or contact him to discuss the matter.
The investigation into the incident remained open as of Friday.