A man from western Minnesota is facing multiple felony charges after he allegedly drove a tractor into a church and fell asleep on the altar.
Joseph M. Rongstad, 38, of Watson, is charged in Chippewa County District Court with second-degree burglary of a religious building and first-degree criminal damage to property.
Rongstad was found wrapped in a blanket, asleep on the altar of the Watson Lutheran Church around 8 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 7, according to a criminal complaint. Before finding Rongstad on the altar, the sheriff's deputy arrived at the scene to see a John Deere 955 tractor with "the loader smashed through the narthex of the church."
The deputy noted that Rongstad "seemed confused and was unsure of where he was," the complaint states, adding that Rongstad didn't recall much from the night before, though he remembered driving into the church door because "he wanted to stay warm."
The 38-year-old man denied using drugs or alcohol, but a urine sample revealed the presence of amphetamine and methamphetamine in Rongstad's system.
A search of the church turned up a disheveled kitchen area, which had a first aid box with bandages "thrown all over," a jar of pickles that opened and "packaged communion wine containers that had been gone through," charges say.
Similar bandages were found in Rongstad's coat pocket.
The criminal complaint estimates that approximately $1,000 worth of damage was done to the church, which has not held a service the past two Sundays.
Watson is located about five miles northwest of Montevideo.