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City Hall evacuated; Dickinson man arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot city officials

City Hall was shut down briefly Thursday morning after a violent threat was made to the building's operations. Derek M. Decker was arrested in connection to the threat.

Dickinson Municipal Court
Dickinson Municipal Court
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — Derek Mitchell Decker, 38, of Dickinson, was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly making violent threats against city hall when he was supposed to appear in municipal court.

Derek Decker
Derek M. Decker, 38, of Dickinson.
Contributed / Dickinson Police Dept

Decker was scheduled to appear in city hall’s municipal court at 10 a.m. for his arraignment on existing charges of criminal mischief, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

Around that time the Dickinson Police Department was alerted by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation to a tip they received alleging that Decker sent a text message conveying his intention to bring a handgun into the courtroom and inflict harm.

City hall was shut down and all civilian staff were ordered to leave the premises. Officers surveiled Decker’s residence, found him driving toward city hall and he was detained without incident. Decker admitted to having a revolver in the truck, which was seized during the traffic stop.

Lt. Mike Hanel said Decker will now be charged with terrorizing in Southwest District Court. Hanel said the investigation is ongoing and that there may be additional charges. In October of 2021, Decker was convicted on unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. He remains in custody at the Southwest Multi-County Correctional Center awaiting a bond hearing.

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Interim Police Chief Joe Cianni praised the individual who alerted law enforcement to the danger, stressing that mere observance can save lives.

“It’s instances like these that prove the importance of ‘See Something, Say Something’ cooperation from the public,” Cianni said. “This tip undoubtedly prevented what could have been a very serious and violent situation. We commend city staff for their quick actions to secure the workplace, and also thank our officers for their investigative skill and quick thinking to bring the incident to a successful outcome.”

By 10:30 a.m. the Dickinson Police Department issued a statement that the threat had been neutralized and the building was reopened for public business.

Clerk of Court Amy Spangler said court was in session when they received the order to shut down.

“It was really strange. City Attorney Christina Wenko came in and told us that we all had to leave right away,” Spangler said.

She noted that during her time with the city, court has been canceled due to illnesses or scheduling conflicts, but never for anything as serious.

“I just want to give a big thank you to the Dickinson Police Department for what they do. It’s an honor to work with them,” Spangler added.

Dickinson City Hall
Dickinson City Hall
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
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Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in rural southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge.
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