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County employee charged with faking attack

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Rochester police officers talk outside the Emergency Operations Center in Rochester on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016.
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A stabbing that involved an Olmsted County employee in October was described as a "strange situation" by an official in the days that followed, and today, the employee stands accused of falsely reporting a crime.

Rick Alan Freshwater, 51, faces one count of the misdemeanor. He was charged by summons Tuesday and is scheduled to make his first court appearance June 15.

He was described at the time of the Oct. 3 incident as a 25-year employee of the county; an employee with Olmsted County Human Resources this morning said his employment status is "active."

The case began at 5:04 p.m. that day with a call on a law enforcement radio channel from Freshwater, saying, "I need help at the EOC. I'm bleeding. I need help at the EOC."

The EOC is the Olmsted County Emergency Operations Center, 1421 Third Ave. SE.

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A radio programmer assigned to the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office, Freshwater was alone in an office; when officers arrived, they found Freshwater on the floor on his hands and knees, blood dripping onto the floor.

According to the criminal complaint filed against him, Freshwater told officers "they tried to kill me." He claimed he was in his office with his headphones on, looking at his computer, when he was attacked from behind by an unknown assailant. His office was within a part of the building not accessible to the public.

Freshwater said his glasses were "smashed against his face while the attacker tried to cut his neck area," the complaint says, and that in the brief struggle, he ended up with cuts on his arm and hand.

He struggled, he told police, slamming the alleged attacker into another desk before tipping over in his chair. That's when the attacker fled, Freshwater said.

He couldn't provide any description of the person he claimed attacked him, other than to say it was a male who was wearing green Nike shoes, court documents say.

A "very large law enforcement response ensued, believing there was an unidentified attacker with a weapon fleeing the scene," the document continues. Co-workers and others around the area at the time of the alleged attack "saw nothing they would describe as suspicious," the reports say, including "no indication of anyone lurking in the area."

Freshwater had a number of deep cuts to his left arm and left hand, and a superficial cut to his neck, the complaint says; Freshwater is right-handed.

The Olmsted County Medical Examiner reviewed photos of the injuries and saw cuts that he believes are "hesitation marks," described in the document as "self-inflicted superficial cuts that are generally parallel with or near the more extensive wounds."

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A handmade weapon was found on the floor of Freshwater's office, consisting of a razor blade placed in a rubber tube, secured with wrapped gauze. A DNA sample taken from the gauze and analyzed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension allegedly showed a single source male DNA profile — Freshwater's.

"We investigated this case as an attempted murder," said Rochester police Capt. John Sherwin, whose division investigated the incident, "and relied on forensic evidence."

Freshwater, he said, spoke with investigators several times: "We treated him as a victim at first," Sherwin said.

The Crime Scene Unit concluded the blood evidence at the scene was more consistent with self-inflicted wounds and controlled blood loss, the document says, rather than the type of blood loss or splatter typically present at a violent struggle.

There was no indication of blood in the area where Freshwater claimed the man had fled.

In addition, "other aspects of the scene were inconsistent" with how he said the attack occurred, the complaint says: Freshwater's glasses were found undamaged, set on a desk in a manner as if they'd been placed there normally, and the desk he claimed he'd slammed the attacker into had numerous items that would have tipped over. They remained undisturbed.

Though there are surveillance cameras in some parts of secured building, they're connected internally to monitors, not to recording equipment.

County employee injured in stabbing

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