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Man charged with shutting off oxygen to North Memorial Hospital

Prosecutors say Larry Draneail Raduenz accessed the main oxygen tanks at North Memorial Hospital, broke off zip ties and latches and tampered with the supply valve.
Credit: KARE
Prosecutors say Larry Raduenz tampered with the main oxygen tank at North Memorial Hospital, turning off the supply valve.

ROBBINSDALE, Minn. — A Robbinsdale man is charged with criminal damage to property after an incident that put the lives of numerous hospital patients in jeopardy.

Prosecutors say 39-year-old Larry Draneail Raduenz accessed the main oxygen tanks at North Memorial Hospital, broke off zip ties and latches and tampered with the supply valve.

Police were notified on Dec. 27, 2019 that someone had turned off the valve that provided oxygen to the hospital and its patients. Officers accessed the hospital's surveillance system and saw a man walking into the North Memorial atrium around 6:15 a.m., unplugging a television and then walking off. The clip provided a clear view of the face of the suspect, later identified as Raduenz. 

“It is shocking that an individual would take a step like this to endanger the lives and wellbeing of innocent and hospitalized people,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “Our office is currently investigating this case and we will pursue other charges if evidence supports us doing so.”

Investigators say Raduenz then walked out of  the hospital, down a sidewalk and into the fenced area housing the oxygen tanks, giving a clear view of his distinct hat and jacket. Minutes later hospital engineers were notified that pressure from the main oxygen tank was rapidly dropping. Staff responded to the tank storage area and found that zip ties and latches protecting the pressure valve from tampering had been broken.  

The oxygen valve was quickly reopened. A hospital engineer told investigators that if it would have taken much longer to restore pressure, "oxygen would have been depleted and could have caused injury or death to multiple patients."

Security video of the suspect's face was compared to known pictures of Larry Raduenz, and police determined they were a match. He was arrested at a shelter in St. Paul on Wednesday, Feb. 5, and in an interview with detectives Raduenz first stated that he did not tamper with the oxygen tank. When pressed he eventually stated that he may have done it, and allegedly told police he was angry with the hospital, according to the complaint.

Prosecutors say records show Raduenz has a previous conviction for tampering with a gas meter in St. Cloud. 

RELATED: Documents: Vandal shut off oxygen supply to North Memorial Hospital