By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

— 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.

Comments (64)
  1. Chris says:

    Officer safety issue. He will get it back if he hasn’t already. You have to look at the totality of the circumstances. Parked in a spot that has had problems (abortion clinic), acting like a stalker, has a gun. Cops can’t just walk up to a guy like this without taking procautions. They have to secure the situation, then sort out whats going on. Sounds like they did that. It checked out (sort of), and he was let go. He has no case whatsoever.

  2. Steve says:

    Totally agree. This is a hit job by Pat Kessler and WCCO. This is not news. It is simply an invasion of his privacy and rights.

    1. His privacy?? What about the rights of women in Minnesota to know if their legislators are stalkers??

  3. Chris says:

    Correction on my part…PLanned Parenthood, not an abortion clinic.

    1. Greater Minnesota says:

      Wrong Planned Parenthood does assist in ABORTIONS…

  4. Jody says:

    The story here is not that he was near a Planned Parenthood center, but that this NUT JOB was stalking his “girlfriend” and possible paramour with a loaded weapon! Who voted for this DANGEROUS IDIOT?

    1. Jessilynn says:

      I agree with you! I hope that woman is getting a restraining order on that fruit loop.

  5. Stacy says:

    Look at all of his behavior. He was angry because he thougt the woman he had gone on a couple of dates with might be dating others. So he went to find her and possibly confront her with a loaded weapon. This is a woman who has not gone far enough in their relationship to provide him with her phone number or her address. So he chose to try and stalk her down with a loaded weapon. That is why the police took the weapon for a day, giving him time to calm down and think before he acted even more impulsivly that he already was. The police were trying to avert a tragedy. Good for them. Imagine the reactions of the same people on this site making comments about how the police should not have taken the gun if the story was instead that he tracked her down and shot her and the police had done nothing.

    Stalking behavior is not a joke. It should not be blown off. It is not just jelousy. It is dangerous and people die as a result of inaction. The police did the right thing under the cercumstances.

  6. Grover says:

    Jody, so that explains the headline, right…

    And was he really stalking anyone? ‘Cause he was charged with a crime, right???

    Way to stoop to name calling. Impressive.

    1. jordan says:

      Yes, he was stalking somone. He admitted it. Call it what you will but trying to ‘check up’ a woman without her knowledge is stalking in my book. I’ll agree that it is a bad headline, but that doesn’t change the facts of the story

  7. stacy says:

    Grover, So the police should have waited until this guy finished stalking his victim and shot her? That is the only time police should act when someone is being stalked by an armed person? He admitted he had driven there to find this woman, a woman who had not provided him with her phone number nor her address. His behavoir was scary and the police took the gun for a day. This gave him time to calm down and think about his impulsive behavoir. The police did a great job.

    Stalking is not a joke. It needs to be taken seriously and people need to act proactivly to protect the victims of stalking. When that doesn’t happen victims can get hurt or die. This mans behavoir needed to be taken seriously and it was.

    1. Jerry says:

      I agree with Stacy; the fact that he had a permit for the gun, doesn’t make him any less likely to shoot someone with it. I don’t blame the police for being especially careful about someone with a gun being near a Planned Parenthood clinic. I live in this guy’s district and have read some of his legislative updates in the local paper and this guy has some attitude issues. Makes me wonder why his marriage failed.

    2. Mary De Angelis says:

      Agree. Police response appropriate and nuanced. The did their job well.

  8. Beth says:

    Perhaps Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be so edgy about things if they weren’t doing anything wrong!

    1. Jerry says:

      I think they’re edgy because some people who disagree with some of the (legal) services they provide want to kill their doctors.

      1. Jordan says:

        Spot on Jerry, just look at what happend to Dr. Tiller in Kansas City. Also clinics in Atlantat and Birmingham.

    2. Tom R says:

      Now this becomes a story about Planned Parenthood doing something wrong? AMAZING! You should get a job with FOX NEWS.

    3. stacy says:

      Planned Parenthood provides for the medical needs of women. Planned Parenthood isn’t doing anything wrong. Perhaps you should find out all fo the services that Planned Parenthood provides before casting your judgement. Perhaps there are services tht they provide that are commendable like adoption counseling, affordable birth control to help prevent unplanned pregnancies, yearly exams for women whom otherwise could not afford it.

      And the reason they are edgy is the WRONG that those who don’t agree with them do. They have reason to be edgy becasue of the WRONG of others.

    4. Mike S says:

      What they do is perfectly legal. They are edgy because terrorists have been bombing their clinics and murdering their doctors for decades now.

      Not that you care about those terrorists.

    5. Lisa says:

      PP is edgy because wingnut, wacko, terrorists shoot and kill people who are just doing their jobs. You don’t approve of abortion, fine, don’t have one, but endorsing intimidation and threats against people exercising their right to have a legal procedure is unacceptable in America. We’re supposed to have a rule of law, not mob rule where people who don’t agree can just take up arms and start shooting, or stalking, because they’re not happy about someone else’s actions. And worrying about nutcases with guns and bombs is perfectly legitimate when the crazy people have proven, over and over, that they will use them .

  9. Tony says:

    Tom, I’m not saying this isn’t a news story, but the original headline was “MN lawmaker ARRESTED Near Planned Parenthood”. That’s what some people are upset about. They have since changed the headline. If he was/is stalking this woman, the authorities should intervene. The issue I have with this story is simple- So-Called “Journalists” running headlines that are in fact misleading. Didn’t we have enough of those during the last political campaign?

  10. John says:

    Until the women involved says she feels he is stalking her it not stalking. For the police to say he ” exhibited the behavior of a stalker ” is wrong. I’m not saying he was not stalking her but it all depends on what the women has to say about it. Who knows what line of baloney she gave him and what he was going to check out. Until she speaks out who know the true story here or even if there was a story at all.

    1. Stacy says:

      So the police should have waited for the armed man to find her and confront her? Really? At that point isn’t it a little late.

    2. dhonig says:

      Why should he “check it out?” He met her on line, she had a cup of coffee with him, they refused to give him her number. She blew him off. Do you really think every man rejected by a woman has a right to track her down and check up on her excuses for not dating him? And that he should be openly carrying a firearm when he attempts to confront her?

      Note to the women of, well, everywhere- don’t meet “John” for coffee.

      1. John says:


        Are you and me reading the same story???????

        Where does it say she had a cup of coffee with him???
        Where does it say she blew him off?????
        Where does it say he check up on her because she was not dating him?????
        Where does it say he went to confront her?????

        With reading all of that into this story – you should get a job writting for the the new paper!!!!!

    3. Nerem says:

      “Until the women involved says she feels he is stalking her it not stalking.” “I’m not saying he was not stalking her but it all depends on what the women has to say about it. ”

      Yes you are. You just said that unless she says she feels its stalking then it is not stalking. But she doesn’t KNOW that he is stalking her with a loaded pistol. That he had out. In his lap. Ready to shoot someone.

  11. lib says:

    I think Mr. Hackbarth has the makings of a pretty good law suit against the police as well as this reporter. How do the police know he is jealous? He walked like a stalker? give me a break, if we arrest people on how they walked have of north mpls would be arrested because they walk like criminals. What on earth was he arrested for? Read the first line of the story, his being there had nothing to do with Planned Parent Hood yet this reporter wants to lead us to believe he is. how about “Cameras CAUGHT him walking away down a DARK alley. Nothing like leading the reader. Stating he was on the HUNT for this woman? Why not get the facts before making such irresponsible statements. Just look at the response from many of the women’s comments. already in there mind this is a rock solid stalking, possibly murdering criminal, he is already guilty without a trial, and we know it is all politically based. This man’s career and quality of life are at stake people, innocent unless proven guilty.

  12. Troy says:

    This is a news story – that Planned Parenthood clinic faces constant protest and threats. Parking in the lot (on private property with a legal no guns on these premises posted sign) with a loaded gun and extra ammo under the seat. That is enough for a news story and for police intervention. Every year hundreds (thousands) of women experience domestic abuse. We sadly see stories on the news all too often of ex husbands shooting their wives and boyfriends threatening ex girlfriends. This is a huge problem in our society. Our police force has been trained to recognize behavior that is indicative of people who are thinking of causing harm to another person. This is very dangerous situation and the point that he has the right to carry a gun is not actually the legal concern here. As a male – I do believe that we need to protect women from potential abusers.

  13. Absolutely, Stacy. He admitted to stalking. He is unfit for leading a committee.

  14. dhonig says:

    So according to this lawmaker, he wasn’t planning to shoot up the clinic. Instead, he was tracking down a woman he met online, who refused to give him her phone number, because he thought she was with another man. And he did it with a gun on his hip, a map, binoculars and extra ammo in the truck, and people think this is a “non-story”? People think the police did something wrong? Really?


    I’m guessing a lot of knee-jerk writers here don’t have mothers, wives, girlfriends, or daughters.

    1. Troy says:

      I agree dhonig – many of us have women in our lives (mothers, sisters and daughters) who have been threatened and attacked by men who have become obsessed and unstable. This is not a joke or some liberal point of view. To imply that is to imply that conservatives are for abuse of women and don’t care if their loved ones are assaulted and murdered. The police are the professionals and they did the right thing completely in this situation. There needs to be a serious investigation into this elected official. He may need real help on some personal problem either caused by his divorce or in his other relationships. The bible preaches compassion I would hate to think that this legislators actions would go ignored and he not get help if he needs it.

    2. John says:


      Once again what story are you reading??????

      A map, Binoculars, and extra ammo??????

      Even if he has that in his truck how does that make him a stalker????
      I have all of the following in my truck as we speak – since you can read so welll into everything please tell me who I’m stalking????

      By the way I have 3 of those listed above – a Mother, a wife, and a daughter. No girlfriend – I don’t think my wife would like that much and I’m sure if I had one and she found out she would be stalking me with a gun on her hip for sure!!!!

  15. Gary Lee says:

    Congratulations to the St. Paul police, both for having the good sense to be concerned with a guy cruising the alleyways of St. Paul with a loaded .38, and for being willing to do something about it. Keep up the good work!

  16. Lori says:

    If the woman exists, then this guy was secretly spying on her with a loaded gun.Another possibility is that the woman does NOT exist, and this guy was at the Planned Parenthood Clinic with a loaded gun as an anti-abortion terrorist. Either way, he sounds dangerous and mentally unhinged.

  17. Tom says:

    Not only is this news, it’s the best kind – ‘Angered, armed man stopped BEFORE killing someone’, instead of the usual ‘Downtown shooting results in one woman killed, four more hospitalized’. Even if the guy is not a politician, it’s news. Very good news.

  18. pat says:

    This is classic profiling.

  19. Jesus with Bells On says:

    At least he didn’t inappropriately use congressional stationery. That would have been a concern.

  20. Matt says:

    stalking by any other name…

  21. Right wing menance says:

    Sounds like the “hit piece” was what he was going to do to his on-line girlfriend.

  22. ShootmyPP says:

    If his gun goes off accidently he may be missing something that he needs to be compensating.

  23. Just Me says:

    He had one coffee date with this woman and decided that he has the right to know her every move. What a psycho! I hope the woman takes out an order of protection against him. He needs to be tossed out of office immediately!

  24. Robert says:

    For those who have trouble with facts, here’s a clear summary of the newsworthy story:

    1. Man parks truck in Planned Parenthood (PP) parking lot with security cameras.
    2. PP facility has security cameras because they have been threatened with violence in the past; elsewhere PP staff have been assaulted, shot, murdered.
    3. Man is seen getting out of truck with pistol on hip.
    4. Police are called.
    5. Police find man to ask him what he’s doing.
    6. Man says he was unaware he’d parked truck next to PP facility.
    7. Man tells police he was looking for girlfriend he’d thought had just lied to him.
    8. The police officers at the scene determine that he exhibits “behavior of a stalker: angry, looking for a woman, with a fully loaded gun.”
    9. They detain him with handcuffs, question him, confiscate his weapon, then release him.
    10. He is allowed to pick up his gun the next day.
    11. He is a state legislator.

    These facts come from the police reports. These facts justify coverage in the press.

    What’s NOT relevant and/or NOT a part of this story:
    1. Politics
    2. Liberals
    3. Republicans
    4. Biased press
    5. Profiling
    6. The morality of abortion
    7. The identity and statement from Hackbart’s “girlfriend” he claimed to be checking out.

    Bottom Line:
    This IS a newsworthy story about a legislator BECAUSE of the actions that the police took, that they were duly concerned about Hackbarth’s behavior and statements AFTER they encountered him and listened to his story. There was good cause for them to be summoned to the scene.

    It doesn’t matter whether Hackbarth is DFL or GOP. To those commenters who claim that the story is unworthy of news attention, that the story is a product of liberal bias, that there is a liberal, conspiratorial “they” out to smear Hackbarth and deny him his rights: you are wrong.

  25. Jane says:

    Well, it’s not surprising he’s in the midst of a divorce, nor is it surprising this woman declined a dinner invitation. To put it mildly, the man is clearly not good relationship material. Anyone who goes looking for a woman with a loaded gun, is a scary guy. Hope this woman and any other with brains stays far away from him,

  26. John says:

    What am I missing here. Over half of the facts mentioned in these commengts are not found anywhere in the story above. The guy was not charged with any crime and his gun was returned to him – would they return a gun to a guy who they have any evidence that he had any plans to harm anyone????

    I believe most of the comments are based on the fact that he is a Legislator and he was carrying a Gun – Not based on the facts given in the story.

    1. Lisa says:

      There have been other sources covering the story, so not all the known facts are consolidated in this one.

  27. Robert says:

    You’re missing the fact that he is a legislator who was detained by police because he was acting suspiciously. The police determined that the appropriate action would be to confiscate his weapon and release him without arresting him. Do you think this isn’t newsworthy?
    I’m glad the police responded promptly and appropriately, and I’m glad the press picked up the story.
    You come off like a whiny knee-jerk apologist, insinuating that the police action and the subsequent news coverage are unwarranted. Why don’t you come out and say what you really think instead of just complaining?

  28. lib says:

    Hey Robert take it easy, someone could profile you as a very angry person, good thing you aren’t in a Planned Parenthood parking lot. I think they profiled him, and I think it a good thing. We wouldn’t have the uproar at the airports if we profiled, we wouldn’t have shootings at schools if we acted on profiling. I think we should do more profiling.

  29. Paul Hobbs says:

    This guy is so fearful that he has to walk around with a loaded gun? No wonder he can’t get a woman’s phone number. I lived on the border of Compton and Long Beach CA and never felt the need to arm myself, is St. Paul that bad?
    It seems like the voters could do better.

  30. Bob says:

    paul hobs how old are you ???

  31. MARTinNJ says:

    Damn, an innocent Repug goes hunting for his next girlfriend and just happens to park in the parking lot of a planned parenthood clinic. Lucky for the woman, this Repug cracker got caught on camera.

    Is there any wonder why the woman wouldn’t give him her phone number. One smart lady, one really dumb member of the MN House.

  32. AJ says:

    let me ask you all something, if this story was all the same, BUT he was not in the planed parent hood parking lot, would there be all this fuss about it? think about it this way he has been in the MN legislature for around 16 years and has done great things for Minnesota, no one thinks about that stuff now am i right? 1 dumb decision and the bashing begins, Really?

  33. tim says:

    the press picked the story…. HOW.

  34. Greg Laden says:

    I’m not sure why we believe there was a girlfriend. She sounds made up.

  35. jimbo92107 says:

    Relax, everybody! He wasn’t going to gun down a woman at Planned Parenthood. He was going to gun down a woman he’d just met online!

  36. Son Of Africa says:

    Police said Hackbarth exhibited the behavior of a stalker: angry, looking for a woman, with a fully loaded gun.

    It’s unbelievabe to me that some here think this is not newsworthy. It doesn’t matter if you are a staunch advocate of 2nd amendment as some here posit that his 2nd amendment rights might have been violated. This guys looked exremely suspicious and had to be confronted just like any other citizen would have been. For some here who thought cops were accusing him of outright stalking have failed to grasp the difference between someone ‘exhibiting the behavior of a stalker’ and outright accusing someone of stalking. Let us not let ourselves be blinded to the truth by partisan politics or whatever ideological differences we may have. I for one does not believe this guy is fit to be a lawmaker. And oh ye,I also find it very amazing the increasingly weird number of people we the electorate are putting in elected offices these days. We should be vettting these folks a bit more.