Sheriff: Suspect in gas station fire died of smoke inhalation, had drugs in system

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The suspect police say threatened officers and refused to come out of a northern Minnesota gas station despite a fire died of smoke inhalation, and had drugs and alcohol in his system at the time, according to the sheriff's office.

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The Koochiching County Sheriff's Office gave an update in a news release Thursday.

A man, identified last week as 26-year-old Colton Tammi of International Falls, was pulled out of the Y Knot gas station in Pelland (just south of the Canadian border) shortly after midnight on Jan. 14.

Authorities said last week Tammi threatened to shoot officers, and would not come out of the building even after a fire had started inside.

In the update Thursday morning, the Koochiching County Sheriff's Office said autopsy results showed Tammi died from smoke inhalation. Preliminary tests also showed amphetamines in his system, and measured a blood-alcohol content of 0.20.

Details about the incident

The release also provides new details, including:

  • A sheriff's deputy found an unoccupied vehicle in a ditch near the Y Knot at around 11:15 p.m. Jan. 13, and called a tow truck to haul it away. He then went to fill up his squad car at the Y Knot – and at that time, dispatch got a call from someone saying he could see a sheriff's deputy, was armed, and would shoot if they came in. He would not say where he was however. (Authorities contacted the vehicle's owner, who said Tammi had access to the car, but did not have permission to use it).
  • A 911 hang-up call was later traced to the Y Knot, and deputies set up a perimeter. Dispatch had on-and-off contact with the suspect, who said he had a .38 handgun and would shoot responding officers.
  • At 11:50 p.m., he said he was pouring gas and oil around the store and would start it on fire. Deputies then saw a blaze in the store. He called back and said he was now outside the Y Knot – but deputies had visual evidence showing that wasn't true.
  • Dispatch lost contact with the suspect around 12:15 a.m., and there were no visible flames at that point. Authorities saw no evidence he'd left Y Knot, and officers provided cover for firefighters who extinguished remaining flames. Tammi's body was discovered at that point.

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