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Hennepin man arrested during Princeton pet store fire shoved an officer, police said

'While his efforts are noble, they were extremely dangerous'

Princeton police issued more information about a Hennepin man who was arrested Saturday night during a downtown fire at a pet store, stating he shoved a police officer twice, then resisted arrest.

While conducting crowd control efforts, James F. Boekeloo, 50, of Hennepin refused to listen to the officers' orders to stay away from the building, police said.

Officers were notified by firefighters within the building, who actively were fighting the fire, of a man who had entered and was refusing to leave.

According to police, an officer approached the front of the building and asked the man to come outside. He refused to comply with the officer's request, police said. Additional orders were given to the man to exit, and he finally complied.

As Boekeloo was exiting the building, he shoved the officer who had given him the order to exit, police said. The officer then advised Boekeloo he was going to place him under arrest. When the officer approached him again, he shoved the officer again in the chest, according to police.

Another officer came to assist in the arrest; however, Boekeloo continued to resist, police said. Firemen who were outside of the building came to assist, ultimately placing Boekeloo under arrest.

No one was injured during the arrest. Officers only used their hands to place Boekeloo on the ground where, after further resistance, he was handcuffed. He was not struck or tased by the officers, according to police reports.

Initially, Boekeloo was charged with obstructing justice and aggravated battery to a police officer, which is a felony.

On Sunday, a group of people gathered at the courthouse to protest Boekeloo's arrest.

Boekeloo, who is the business owner's brother, was attempting to rescue animals from within the burning structure at the time of his arrest.

"While his efforts are noble, they were extremely dangerous," Princeton police said in a released statement. "At any time, he could have been injured, causing firefighters to pause their firefighting efforts to rescue him. Fortunately, that did not happen.

Boekeloo's charges will be reduced to misdemeanor battery, obstructing police/fire and resisting arrest. Boekeloo is free on bond pending his next court date.

"I understand this situation was emotionally charged. I understand Boekeloo's intentions were to rescue animals from within the building. That does not excuse his actions towards the police officers and firefighters working to save his sister's business," police said.

On Sunday, a man threatened to cause problems in Princeton over the arrest of Boekeloo, police said. Specifically, the man stated he would burn down buildings in Princeton and riot. The on-duty sergeant spoke to the man and advised him he was allowed to peacefully protest if he wished. Ultimately, a peaceful protest occurred near the jail and courthouse on Sunday.

"We are saddened by the loss of animals' lives and by the damage caused to one of our valued local businesses," Princeton police said. "We are also inspired by the community efforts displayed that night and the following day to help the businesses impacted by the fire. It is our hope [the owner] is able to rebuild and reopen as soon as possible."

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