By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV
ST. PAUL (WCCO) — A Minnesota lawmaker is trying to explain why he showed up at a Planned Parenthood with a loaded gun. He says he just happened to pick that parking lot.
Surveillance cameras at the Planned Parenthood in St. Paul spotted Representative Tom Hackbarth of Cedar, Minn., parking his pickup and getting out with a .38 Smith and Wesson on his right hip.
Hackbarth, who is a new chairman of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, told WCCO-TV by telephone he had “no clue” he’d parked next to a security-conscious abortion facility.
Hackbarth has been suspended from any current and pending leadership roles within the House GOP Caucus, according to a released statement from the Minnesota House of Representatives.
The statement goes on to say his suspension will remain in effect until the issue is fully resolved.
The Republican representative said a romance that started online put him in the wrong place.
“I have a permit to carry legally. I carry my gun all the time. I have never had an incident and everything is perfectly legal and above board,” said Hackbarth.
Cameras caught him walking away down a dark alley.
“We have to air our dirty laundry? My wife and I are going through a divorce we are separated. We’ve been separated for about a year and a half now,” said Hackbarth.
Hackbarth was apparently on the hunt for his girlfriend whom he’d recently met online.
“She gave me some line of baloney, and I thought, ‘well, she’s fibbing to me.’ You could tell, and I thought, ‘well, I’m going to check it out.’ and I went there to see if she was around and her vehicle was not there. And I was just checking on her,” he said.
The police report says he may have been jealous about another man, which is something Hackbarth denies.
Police say Hackbarth exhibited the behavior of a stalker: angry, looking for a woman, with a fully loaded gun.
They stopped his truck, handcuffed him and took his weapon that night, but he was never charged with a crime. He picked up his gun Tuesday.