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Authorities break up potentially violent home invasion

By Janice Gregorson

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

STEWARTVILLE — A fence, spotlights in the yard, an attack dog. And lots of guns hidden around the property.

All those thoughts are pressing on Jon Nelson’s mind these days as ways to protect his family in the aftermath of what authorities say was a planned home invasion that could have ended in their deaths Tuesday night.

Two suspects were stopped and surrounded by law enforcement officers just feet from Nelson’s rural High Forest Township home near the junction of Olmsted County roads 8 and 6. Criminal charges were filed against them Friday.

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Authorities received a tip about the planned home invasion from an informant working with members of the Southeast Drug Task Force. The informant said he had been asked to join two others in the home invasion because they believed the Nelsons had a lot of cash in a safe. He told officers how one of the suspects said "if he had to kill them (the family), he would kill them."

At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, the informant called a deputy, saying the suspects were going to do the home invasion at 11 p.m. The informant agreed to work with law enforcement, to wear an electronic transmitter and to go with the suspects to the home. The informant didn’t know whose home was being targeted, just a general location.

Officers followed the suspect car and listened to talk going on inside between the informant and the suspects.

They stopped the car just as it approached the Nelson driveway.

Nelson didn’t have a clue that anything was going on until three officers knocked on his door at 11 p.m. At the time, Nelson was working at his home computer; his wife, Gloria, was asleep. His daughter Shannon, home on vacation from Colorado, had just tucked her children in bed.

"My wife screamed. She went to pieces," Nelson said Friday afternoon.

The most troubling news came when deputies said a longtime friend apparently led the suspects to the Nelson home.

Nelson now has obtained a harassment restraining order to keep that man away from his family and his property.

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"He has been a close friend of ours for at least 15 years," Nelson said of the man. "He has mowed our grass for many years and all kinds of other things, plus feed our dogs if we are gone. We would have trusted him with our lives.

"He told them (the suspects) I had maybe $10,000 in a safe in my house," Nelson said.

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